In Miners of Tomorrow, we look at how recipients of Hexagon Mining scholarships are faring. Erik Charrier studies Mining Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO.
Bring us up to date with your progress at Mines.
I am in the final stages of my PhD. I defended my proposal, passed my comprehensive exam and am now writing my dissertation. My research is the ignition potential of abrasive waterjets in explosive atmospheres. In some situations, abrasive waterjets may be a safer and more cost-effective alternative to conventional hotwork procedures in mining and other industries.
How did the scholarship come about? Did you apply or were you picked?
I regularly watch the department emails and website for scholarship opportunities that fit my career goals and education path. The Hexagon Mining scholarship was a good fit for someone like me who is outside of traditional mining paths so I applied. I am extremely thankful for Hexagon’s investment in the future of mining and generous support of my education
Do you use Hexagon Mining technology at Mines?
Yes, MineSight is the standard mine design package on our campus. When I took Underground Mine Design, we had a phenomenal MineSight curriculum put together by Andrea Brickey.
What attracted you to mining as a career?
I had a lifelong interest in heavy equipment and natural resources. I grew up in the commercial fishing industry (gillnetting for salmon in Washington and Alaska) and developed a taste for industries with uncertainty and high upside potential. Mechanical engineering provided a useful skill set, but was missing the entrepreneurial potential and natural resources focus. I switched to mining after I completed a Master’s in mechanical engineering (also at Mines). In terms of coursework, my focus is equipment, automation, and waterjets.
What are your life ambitions beyond career (family? travel?)
Start a family, pursue lifelong learning, and set up a good shop for tinkering.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’m usually working on something or tinkering. I have a 3D printer and a benchtop milling machine in my apartment for prototyping. I usually do my own mechanical work on my truck. For example, the 26-year-old bed rusted out so I replaced it with a flatbed from the junkyard and did some painting while the truck was torn apart. If I’m not tinkering, I enjoy four-wheeling, hiking, weight lifting, reading, and learning.
Do you live on campus? What’s fun to do in Golden?
I haven’t lived on campus since I was a freshman about a decade ago. Golden is an excellent town for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and running. Many students appreciate the high concentration of microbreweries and the food selection. The I-70 corridor provides excellent access to mountain recreation. I will probably be up there four-wheeling in the snow this weekend.
What’s in your iPod?
I haven’t had a dedicated MP3 player since I reluctantly joined the smartphone era. Audible has the biggest share of disk space on my portable distraction so here are a few of the titles that I recommend: Antifragile, Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; Mastery and 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene; How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams; and The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman.
What’s the last book you read for pleasure?
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Your top three dinner guests, dead or alive?
The conversations would be an unprecedented learning opportunity and a chance to rewrite a lot of history. By the time we read history, it is packaged into a narrative and corrupted by the historian’s hindsight. To get a different take I would pick two of the West’s most effective statesmen: Otto von Bismarck and Napoleon Bonaparte. The third guest would be Nassim Nicholas Taleb to discourage the other two from attributing all their successes to their genius and their failures to bad luck.
Anything else to add?
I am grateful for Hexagon Mining’s generous support of my education and investment in the future of mining.