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Teck Cominco donates $7.5M to university


Last updated 5/28/2006 at Noon

The already successful mining engineering program at the University of British Columbia has received a further boost in the form of a $7.5 million gift from Vancouver-based Teck Cominco. The donation will create the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, in honor of the company's former president and CEO. One of the components of the $7.5 million is $650,000 from the family of the late Robert Hallbauer, a UBC mining engineering graduate, who helped make Teck Cominco the company it is today. That portion of the gift will establish a chair in Hallbauer's name.

Teck Cominco has had a long association with UBC's mining engineering program. "They've helped us a lot in teaching courses and providing speakers," Malcolm Scoble, head of the department, told Mining News. Representatives of Teck Cominco also participate in the mining engineering program's industry advisory committee alongside other companies.

Program has 100 undergrads

There are around 100 undergraduates and 85 graduate students in the mining engineering program currently, but the department hasn't always been this healthy. "About five years ago we had a bit of a scare with a small intake," Scoble said. "We realized that we had to be more proactive and creative in recruiting." So the department made a CD, took more trips to high schools and colleges, and tried to create a really good Web site. The strategy brought in 35 new students last year, which isn't a huge number compared with the hundreds in fields like electrical and mechanical engineering, but is respectable when compared with mining engineering programs elsewhere.

"The money will enable us to make sure we've got the highest-quality educational experience for our students," Scoble said of Teck Cominco's gift. "It will enable us to do even better research on behalf of both industry and society." Some of the aspects of mining that Scoble thinks should attract students - aside from the high salaries - include professional challenges, the chance to work in various parts of the world, and the opportunity to take on a leadership role within a company.

"Our graduates will be technology-smart, innovative and responsible leaders," Scoble said. "We feel that it's a noble aim that we're trying to graduate people who will eventually be industry leaders."


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