2019 Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Application Instructions

To apply, send your resume and a list of up to five projects of interest to underground@mines.edu.
Applications are due Monday, September 16, 2019, by noon.

2019 Projects

Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Data Analysis on Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and other Amazing Construction Equipment

Faculty Mentor: Mike Mooney

In this project, we are learning about equipment performance and machine/ground interaction from 1000s of sensors, providing continuous data over months to years. The student(s) will work with our existing team of researchers using the latest artificial intelligence / machine learning methods to examine data. No experience in tunneling or underground engineering is required, but a willingness to learn generally about these massive machines is a must! (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z38JIqGDZVU if you’re curious!).

Soil Testing and Soil Conditioning

Faculty Mentor: Mike Mooney

Participate in a team environment to perform sets of experiments to applying conditioning agents to clay, silt and sand to observe the changes in engineering behavior. Soil mechanics and soil mechanics lab class experience is preferable.

Applications of LiDAR to Rockfall Analysis

Faculty Mentor: Gabe Walton

Monitoring ground movement is a critical component of any instrumentation program. 3D laser scanning (LiDAR) represents a potential valuable tool for making such measurements. By taking advantage of the large volumes of data collected by LiDAR, highly accurate deformation and collapsed block volume measurements can be made. This position will involve processing LiDAR data collected from various sites to evaluate the accuracy of the data and to develop approaches to improve monitoring accuracy; there may also be opportunities for short fieldwork stints to collect more data. The ideal candidate would have some experience either with MATLAB or working with LiDAR data.

Optimization of Rockbolt Support for Flat-Roofed Excavations

Faculty Mentor: Gabe Walton

Flat-roofed excavations are typically only constructed in horizontally stratified (e.g. sedimentary) rock. Because of the unique excavation geometry and anisotropic rock characteristics in such cases, typical rockbolt support patterns may not be optimal. This position will involve developing and interpreting a series of numerical models to predict rockbolt performance for different geological scenarios and different support designs. The ideal candidate would have some background in rock mechanics and programming.

New Cementitious Materials from Mine Tailings (crushed rock powder)

Faculty Mentor: Reza Hedayat

Mine tailings are finely ground ore that have been subjected to physical and chemical processes to liberate a portion of the valuable minerals. These tailings often still contain valuable minerals after processing and have potentials for generation of new construction materials that could also be used for underground applications. In this project, the undergraduate student will work closely with Dr. Hedayat and his research team in performing a variety of index soil tests on materials. There is a high chance for joint publication of the research findings and it is preferred to have experience with testing of soil/rock materials.

Development of an Analytical Solution for Ground and Tunnel Interaction

Faculty Mentor: Reza Hedayat

In order to analyze a tunnel, it is essential to understand the various rock mass behaviors after an excavation. The original properties of a rock or rock mass near a tunnel are changed after the excavation. The excavation impact (e.g. due to blasting, TBM drilling, etc.) induces an excavation damaged or disturbed zone around a tunnel. In this regard, in drill and blast method, the damage to the rock mass is more significant. In this zone, the stiffness and strength parameters of the surrounding rock mass are different. The real effect of a damage zone developed by an excavation impact around a tunnel, and its influence on the overall response of the tunnel are of interest to be quantified. The student will be involved with the expansion of an existing analytical solution and implementation of the solution into the Matlab code. Experience with Matlab and other programming languages is desired. This project is suitable for a student from any discipline, e.g., mathematics, statistics, computer science, electrical, civil, mechanical, geological, mining, and physics. Given that a new solution for ground-support interaction has already been developed, there is very high chance of publishing the results of this research effort in a tunneling related journal.

Direct Shear Testing of Soil Specimens

Faculty Mentor: Reza Hedayat

Using an advanced geophysical imaging system and in collaboration with a graduate student, the undergraduate student researcher will conduct experiments on soil layers. During the experiments, the soil layer will be sheared while the layer is being monitored by geophysical waves propagated through the layer. This project is experiment-based and provides a great opportunity for a student to develop research skills and gain experience from multiple disciplines including geophysics, mining, and civil engineering. This research work has a very high chance of publication in a high impact journal.

Development of the Basic Requirements for the Underground Development on the Moon

Faculty Mentor: Jamal Rostami

The work involves running a quick literature survey of the geology and geotech information about the moon, and also to look at possibilities for underground space and related requirements. The team should look at the design issues and prepare some graphics on how the spaces will look like and how they can be constructed. Preferred student backgrounds include mining, civil, and mechanical engineering.

Soil Abrasion Studies

Faculty Mentor: Jamal Rostami

This study involves looking at our current research activities and conducting some laboratory testing under the supervision of the PhD student to examine the impact of water content on soil rheology and abrasive behavior, relative to soft ground tunneling practices.