Mining Students in Ecuador
By Sarah Potter
November 3, 2020 - Missouri S&T will soon welcome mining engineering students from Ecuador in the culmination of an over-five-year effort to bring students to Rolla.
Administrators from Missouri S&T began visiting Ecuador in 2014 and signed a transfer agreement in 2017 with Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) to bring students interested in mining to Rolla. The exchange program requires students in Ecuador to take five semesters of courses at USFQ before transferring to S&T to finish their mining degree in two years.
Javier Cordova (center), Ecuador’s minister of mines, is helping students in Ecuador study mining engineering through agreements with universities such as Missouri S&T.
“This program benefits everyone involved,” says Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei, interim director of S&T’s mining engineering program. “The mining industry gains good mining engineers; the mining student receives a world-class education. S&T gets talented students from Ecuador in our program, and they provide an international perspective for our S&T students.”
Awuah-Offei says S&T students could also travel to Ecuador through this program, and they would not necessarily be limited to mining engineering. Dr. Samuel Frimpong, Robert H. Quenon Endowed Chair and professor of mining engineering at S&T, started the visits to Ecuador and meeting with government and university officials.
USFQ is a private, non-profit liberal arts college in the capital city of Quito, Ecuador, with a thriving engineering program primarily focused on the oil and gas industry. Frimpong says the school teaches classes in English, which helped simplify the partnership. USFQ does not yet offer mining engineering, but the government is interested in expanding its engineering talent to mine the country’s abundant minerals such as gold.
“Ecuador wants programs to train mining engineers so that within the next 10 years, 80% of its mining engineers would be local,” says Frimpong. “The main driving force is to create domestic capacity for the mining and minerals sector of Ecuador’s economy.”
S&T’s agreement will help Ecuador to train mining engineering students and prepare USFQ faculty to teach mining courses in the future.
Awuah-Offei says one of the barriers to bringing students to Missouri S&T has been the tuition, which is too costly for most Ecuadorians. Marshall Koval, CEO of Lumina Gold and a former S&T student, and his business partner, Ross Beaty, stepped up to offer $200,000 in scholarships to start the exchange program. Each transfer student will receive $10,000 from the scholarship fund and a $10,000 provost’s grant to cover two years of tuition, which would allow students to finish their mining degree in Rolla.
The first student from Ecuador to arrive in Rolla is expected on campus in fall 2021.