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Mining engineering students win National Competition for the fourth time

Ahmed Al Maashari, Haitham Al Yaaqoubi, Kyle Jenness, and Rylan Nemesh

Mining engineering students Ahmed Al Maashari, Haitham Al Yaaqoubi, Kyle Jenness, and Rylan Nemesh.

The team of mining engineering students from West Virginia University researched and recommended a plan of action to recover the maximum amount of resources from a full-scale surface and underground limestone deposit, receiving top placement for the fourth time.

Story by Paige Nesbit, Director of Marketing and Communications
Photos supplied


Ahmed Al Maashari, Haitham Al Yaaqoubi, Kyle Jenness, and Rylan Nemesh, 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.

Every year Carlson Software invites each U.S. based ABET accredited mining engineering program to nominate their best senior design project for the contest. Each participating team may consist of up to five students to complete the project.

The Carlson Software Competition compares capstone projects among multiple schools across the country. The projects are a culmination of two semesters of work at WVU and represent each team’s ability to conduct complex analysis of an unmined mineral or coal resource by evaluating the geology 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 Courses taught by lecturer supervisor, Dan Alexander and former assistant professor Hassan Amini.

“I can say without reservation that these competitions motivate WVU's best student teams to go beyond the Capstone Mine Design course requirements,” Alexander explained. “They receive the satisfaction that they have exceeded the ABET Mining Engineering accreditation requirements and confirmation that they are ready to enter the professional mining community.”

Using skills learned in the mining and engineering program and industry internships, Al Maashari, Al Yaaqoubi, Jenness and Nemesh teamed up in the fall semester of 2022 to produce an exploration report. Using Carlson Software, they began by building a mathematical model of the local geologic strata. This model was used to provide detailed information on geology, limestone quality, location, marketability and mining conditions.

“Carlson Software is one of the essential design software programs used in the mining industry today,” Nemesh said. “It's applicable in many different commodities and can be used for everything from surface pit design to underground production timing.”

The maps drafted for the project were based on actual core-hole data provided by a mining company. With the geologic model in-hand, the students created a mine plan during the spring semester of 2023. Data from the mine plan, including annual production of construction aggregate and power plant scrubber sorbent, the number of employees required, equipment used, costs for operations and capital facilities, are then used to estimate the project cash flow and economic merit of investing in the project.

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 faculty in oral and written presentations.

“We ended up having over 260 pages of writing, equations, maps and figures encompassing every possible aspect of the project,” Nemesh explained. “We spent countless hours and many sleepless nights in the lab working on this project, and it's fantastic that we got this result. It makes all those times on campus at 2:30 a.m. on a Tuesday worth it.”

WVU has received recognition in the Carlson Software Competition for 16 out of the last 23 years and has placed first eight times since 2000.

Additionally, WVU mining students earned similar recognition in the Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America/Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration-Pittsburgh Section (PCMIA/SME-PGH) senior mine design competition, placing 18 times in 21 years with 12 first places. The competition began 30 years ago when Alexander set up the criteria and formed the judges panel of mining industry experts for the PCMIA while working for CONSOL Energy.

After graduation, Jenness began work with Vulcan Materials in Havre De Grace, Maryland as an operations trainee. Al Yaaqoubi completed an internship with Mazoon Mining Company, LLC working on a copper-gold project in Yanqul, Oman. Al Maashari started working for Mawarid Mining Company on an underground copper project. Nemesh has been hired as a management trainee for Heidelberg Materials North America in Raleigh, North Carolina.



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