Virginia Tech unveils new Center for Autonomous Mining

The center houses three pits, two of which are not used right now

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech opened a new mock mine to help students gear up for the workforce.

Graduating Senior, Christopher Keesee, is one of nearly two dozen students learning in the new Center for Autonomous Mining at Virginia Tech.

“The space in here is amazing, the fact that we get to use is a privilege,” Keesee said.

A privilege, because the College of Engineering recently opened the mock mine this semester.

“You get to set up everything, from the tools to the very projects and I think it was very special,” Keesee said.

Students are getting hands-on training in mining technologies using robotic equipment or drones.

“We requested a facility where our students could design and build bots for excavation for either here on earth or off earth,” Professor Erik Westman said.

Westman wrapped up his first semester of class teaching students about data and robotic analytics as well collect mine data.

The center houses three pits, two of which are not used right now. One of them contains 25 tons of limestone rock.

“Having this facility allows us to train students on robotic equipment and the sensors that are required, it allows students to do the digging, loading, and hauling on a laboratory scale that’s done on a field site, and actual quarry or actual mine,” Westman said.

About the Author:

Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.