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Mining Engineering students place first in the national Carlson Software Competition for the third time in four years

Carlson Award Winners: Takoda Kelly, Dylan Powers, Jared Morse, William Geldhauser

Carlson Award Winners from left to right: Takoda Kelly, Dylan Powers, Jared Morse, William Geldhauser

Time and time again, a team of students from West Virginia University’s mining engineering program step up to the challenge of researching and recommending a plan of action to recover the maximum amount of resource from a full-scale operating coal mine.

Story by Tara Heffernan, Multi-Media Specialist
Submitted Photos


William Geldhauser, Takoda Kelly, Jared Morse and Dylan Powers, graduating seniors in the mining engineering department of the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, have won first place in the national Carlson Software Competition.

This is the third time in four years that WVU has placed first in the national competition.

The Carlson Software Competition compares capstone projects among multiple schools across the country. The projects are a culmination of two semesters of work and represent each team’s ability to conduct complex analysis of a geologic mineral or coal reserve and plan its extraction over its predicted mine-life. Each school is limited to one project submission, which is judged on design justification, market analysis, risk assessment, overall presentation quality and a variety of other criteria by industry professionals.

The winning project was completed as part of the Capstone Mine Design Course taught by lecturer supervisor, Dan Alexander. “I can say without reservation that these competitions do motivate WVU's best students to go beyond the Capstone Mine Design course requirements for the recognition they receive and satisfaction that they have not only met the ABET Mining Engineering accreditation requirements but are ready to enter the professional mining community,” said Alexander.

Using skills learned in the mining and engineering program, Geldhauser, Kelly, Morse and Powers teamed up in the fall semester of 2021 to produce an exploration report, which detailed information on geology, quality, location, market and mining conditions.

The maps drafted for the project were based on real life core-hole data provided by an operating coal mine. With this information in-hand, the students created a mine plan during the spring semester of 2022. Data from the mine plan, including annual production of coal, number of employees required, equipment used, costs for operations and capital facilities, are then used to estimate the project cash flow and economic merit measures.

The team can then draw conclusions and make recommendations on whether an investment should be made in the project. These findings are presented to industry representatives and assessed in oral and written presentations.

A year of teamwork, time management and communication paid off when the WVU team walked away with first place. “It’s honestly such an honor to win this award. Our team put in a lot of hard work and long nights into this project and it’s just really great to see something positive come from that” says Dylan Powers, one of the students on the winning WVU team.

WVU has received recognition in the Carlson Software Competition for 15 out of the last 22 years and has placed first 7 times since 2000. Additionally, WVU mining students earned similar recognition in the Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America/Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration-Pittsburgh (PCMIA/SME-PGH) senior mine design competition, placing 17 times in 29 years with 11 first places.

After graduation, Jared Morse plans to pass his FE exam and pursue a career as a mine engineer in underground coal. Dylan Powers has recently graduated and is employed by Vulcan Materials Company as an Operations Trainee. Both William Geldhauser and Takoda Kelly went on to work in the coal mining industry.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135