Ventilation Engineer

A mine ventilation unit. Josh Gresham’s job is to keep a mine, 5,500 feet underground cool and full of breathable air.

Josh Gresham, 26, Ventilation Engineer
@ US. Silver-Idaho, Inc.  (U.S. Silver Corp)

What did you get your degree in?
Mining Engineering at Colorado School of Mines in 2007

What made you decide to be a mining engineer?
I grew up around the old Colorado mining camps, exploring old mine sites (and doing my darndest to get into the mines).  When I went to CSM, and found out that mining engineering was an actual degree, I decided to try it.  I haven’t looked back yet!

What are your job responsibilities?
Monitor and maintain the ventilation system that provides fresh, cool air to the miners.  In a deep, old mine like the Galena, this is quite a challenge.  I also use computer software to model what the ventilation needs will be with future development. My other duty is to forecast and report on the progress of development crews, to make sure we are making new production areas available before the old ones get mined out.

What’s the best part of your job?
Going underground!  I spend 2-3 days a week underground, measuring airflows and checking on mine development progress.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Providing cool air to the miners.  The mine is 5,500 feet deep, and at that depth the rock runs ~100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The air gets to be in the 80’s or higher, and 100% humidity – like a sunny day on the beach in Florida.  In that heat, it is difficult to work very hard or be very productive.

Any advice to students looking to enter your field?
Get a job in the industry as soon as you can.  If you can’t get a “proper” internship, call the mines and ask if they need any temporary help as a laborer.  The more places you’ve worked, the more people you’ll meet – and WHO you know is just as valuable as WHAT you know.

What’s the best part about working in the mining industry?
Especially at an underground mine, there is never a dull day.  Things change so much that you are always on the edge of your seat just trying to keep up.  It’s also like a great big family – only a small number of people, and they move around so much that you are always running into someone you met at another job or at a conference.