School of Mines News
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Contact: Breanna Bishop, Public Information Coordinator, (605) 394-6082
School of Mines Holds 152nd Commencement
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology will hold its 152nd
Commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, in the Rushmore Plaza Civic
Center Theater. More than 90 graduates will receive associate’s, bachelor’s,
master’s or doctoral degrees.
Cheryl Chapman will join the School of Mines as commencement speaker.
Chapman earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and civil engineering from
the School of Mines in 1978. During the past 27 years, she has held
environmentally-based positions with a number of organizations of progressively
Chapman has served as director of environmental engineering for a major
architectural/engineering firm; principle deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for
Installations and Environmental; and in 1999 became president and principle
consultant of MATRIX Consulting Group, Inc. of Rapid City.
Chapman has also been active in the community. She has served as a
Pennington County Commissioner and Chair of the Commission, where she
provided leadership on many local government policy and management
initiatives, including the creation of the Pennington County Drainage
Commission, of which she served as the first Chair.
David Burnett, an Industrial Engineering major from Philip, S.D., will represent the
graduating class. Burnett has been a member of the Institute of Industrial
Engineers, serving as the organization’s treasurer and president and was
selected as Most Outstanding Underclassman his sophomore year. Burnett was
also involved with Tau Beti Pi and Alpha Pi Mu honor societies, Residence Life,
Peer Advising, Orientation, United Campus Ministries and Students Against
Drunk Driving. His future plans include pursuing a master’s degree in Industrial
Engineering at the University of Louisville.
Also during the ceremony, the School of Mines will honor five alumni with
“Distinguished Alumni” awards, given to graduates who have made outstanding
contributions in their professions and to the School of Mines.
This year���s Distinguished Alumni:
Dr. Charles L. Braun
A native of Rapid City, SD, Dr. Charles Braun received his bachelor’s degree in
chemistry from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1959 and
his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1963.
After beginning his career with the Army Corps of Engineers, Dr. Braun spent 40
years teaching chemistry at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Dr. Braun
retired from Dartmouth on June 30, 2005 as professor of chemistry, emeritus. His
time as an educator was recognized with the Distinguished Teaching Award,
1987; the CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) New
Hampshire University Professor of the Year Award, 1992; and the Robert A. Fish
1918 Memorial Prize for a lifetime of outstanding teaching and scholarship, and
achievement and dedication to students, 2005.
He has 57 publications in refereed journals and has had continuous funding from
the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Energy
since 1981 totaling well over $2 million. Currently, he is pursuing a patent for a
spectroscopic approach to breath analysis for medical diagnosis.
Dr. Robert I. Chen
A native of Taiwan, Dr. Robert Chen received his master’s degree in electrical
engineering from the School of Mines and Technology in 1973 and his EngD
from Syracuse University in 1977. From 1973 to 1981, Dr. Chen held various
engineering and management positions in General Motors, General Electric,
Tektronix, Fairchild Semiconductor, and Hewlett Packard. From 1981 to 1991,
Beginning in 1981, Dr. Chen entered the entrepreneurial field, serving as
founder, president, CEO and chairman of Applied Optoelectronic Technology
Corporation. This business was sold to Hewlett Packard in 1990. In 1991, he
served as co-founder, president, CEO and chairman of RAE Systems, a global
developer and manufacturer of rapidly deployable, multi-sensor chemical
detection monitors and networks for homeland security and industrial
applications. Since 2000, Dr. Chen has also served as founder, president, CE
and chairman of REnex Technology Ltd., a Hong Kong-based developer of
industrial, government, and security applications.
Dr. Chen holds a United States patent for a bilaterial phototransistor, has several
patent disclosures, and has led RAE Systems to achieve 21 patents focused on
chemical sensor technologies.
Tony A. Jensen
Tony Jensen received his bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering from the
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1984. In the years since,
Jensen has risen through the ranks, holding positions with a number of top
corporations located around the globe.
Currently, Jensen is with Royal Gold, Inc. of Denver, Colorado, as president and
chief operating officer. Royal Gold has since been recognized as one of the
fastest growing companies in the United States by both Forbes and Fortune
magazines. He is also the past chairman and current member of the School of
Mines Mining Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. He has been instrumental
in raising $300,000 for the Mining Engineering and Management Program. He
was the recipient of the School of Mines Mining Engineering 1994 Outstanding
Recent Graduate award.
Cliff G. Mumm
Cliff Mumm received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical
engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1973 and
1974, respectively. He soon found work with Bechtel, one of the largest
engineering and construction management firms in the world. In the 31 years
Mumm has spent with the company, he has risen to become one of Bechtel’s top
Projects Mumm has headed for Bechtel include the Jubilee Line Extension in
London for the British Government, a Bechtel team that was responsible for
providing a safety program for Ground Zero cleanup operations, and project
director of teams that were tasked with rebuilding roads, bridges, water and
wastewater plants, airports, schools power plants, telecommunications systems,
power lines, and dredging the Port of Um-Qasr in Iraq after the United States
invasion. For his efforts, Mumm has been profiled in the Engineering News
Record, appeared on National Public Radio, on the front page of the Rapid City
Journal, and was named to World Generation’s class of 2004. Additionally, Mr.
Mumm was recently named the president of Bechtel North American
Dr. James R. Swartz
Dr. Swartz received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1971 and worked for two years
for Union Oil Co. of California as a petroleum engineer. He then earned his
master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 1975 and a DSc in
Biochemical Engineering from MIT in 1978.
In 1978, Dr. Swartz served as a visiting scientist to the USSR before joining the
pharmaceutical industry with Eli Lilly and Company as a senior scientist in
antibiotic process development. In 1998, Dr. Swartz joined Stanford University as
a professor of chemical engineering, where his research focus is on cell-free
protein synthesis and is motivated by applications in pharmaceutical production,
patient-specific medicine, hydrogen production, and water purification.
Since receiving his first patent in 1985, Dr. Swartz has had 18 patents issued—3
of those as sole recipient and 15 co-authored. He has recently submitted 5
patents—2 of those with full application. Dr. Swartz has more than 50 articles
that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and he has
made 96 presentations, many at national and international conferences.
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