Alumnus Testimonial: Complementing Professional Experience With a Mining Engineering Master’s

10 December, 2021

karl francisque mining engineering mastersOnline Master of Engineering in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering alumnus Karl Francisque has worked on mining projects in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Arizona over the course of his career.

Currently a senior shaft engineer at consulting firm Hatch Ltd, Karl began his career in the field after graduating with his bachelor’s in mining engineering. In his first position, he worked with a mining contractor in Canada as an engineer in training.

Below, Karl elaborates on why he chose the University of Arizona for his graduate degree, offers advice for those considering the program, and explains how he was able to obtain his position thanks in part to the online master’s in mining engineering.

Read another Q&A with online ME in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering alumnus Maxim Liber.

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Why did you select the University of Arizona ME in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering program among others that you may have been considering?

I chose to attend the University of Arizona not only for its solid reputation as a mining school but also for how the online program was structured. The ability to complete the same classes whether I attended online or on campus gave me the confidence that I would not be receiving a lesser degree.

What was the online learning experience like for you?

It was very enjoyable. All of the professors were conscious of the different needs of online students and made sure that class exercises were available and that we had a forum to ask our questions. I was employed and working a demanding rotational schedule while enrolled, but I was able to complete my tests and assignments along with my other commitments.

How were your experiences with faculty, staff, and fellow students?

All my interactions were very positive. Faculty members were very open and always available to answer questions about their classes or the inner workings of studying online. Many classes gave us the opportunity to complete large projects in teams, and most of the students were very accommodating. I have been part of groups with both online and campus students. Setting meeting times was challenging since we resided in three separate time zones, but technology made communication and file sharing relatively seamless.

How has the program benefited you already and how do you foresee it benefitting you in the future?

I gained a great amount of practical experience at the company I joined after earning my bachelor’s, but I felt like I lacked something because I hadn’t completed a formal graduate program. This master’s degree complemented my experience in the field and allowed me to develop knowledge in areas that differed from my daily tasks. I also changed employers while I was still enrolled, and my pursuit of an advanced degree played a role in obtaining the position I desired.

What knowledge and skills did you acquire that you find especially valuable?

This program helped me delve deeper into the geotechnical aspect of mining and underground construction. Those skills were very valuable since they were related to the work I was executing at the time. We were installing ground support that is not commonly used, but my new knowledge helped me understand the engineer of record’s intent.

What was one of your favorite courses or projects to work on?

My favorite courses were those related to mineral economics, including Mine Examination and Valuation (MNE 530) and Acquisition & Financing of Mineral Projects (MNE 697G). This is a topic that was only briefly discussed in my undergraduate degree, but it opened my eyes to a very different aspect of the mining industry.

What would you like others to know about this program?

This program was very challenging but also gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. It allows for a large amount of flexibility and has a very complete range of course offerings. I would recommend the ME in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering to anyone who is hesitating. From the asynchronous classes to the recorded lessons and online work sessions, the online program uses every means possible to help you succeed.

About the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering at the University of Arizona

The University of Arizona Department of Mining and Geological Engineering has a history dating back to 1885. Today, the department equips students with the latest techniques in analysis, modeling, and simulation. Taught by a faculty of leading experts with extensive industry experience, our courses connect technical skills with scientific knowledge, readying professionals to excel in tomorrow’s mining organizations.

Students can pursue an online Master of Engineering in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering or a variety of graduate certificates: