Mines News

Release Date Friday, February 9, 2024

South Dakota Mines Strengthens its Connection to Local Arts Scene

Jacqui Dietrich, director of the Rapid City Arts Council, poses with South Dakota Mines President Jim Rankin, Ph.D.

South Dakota Mines and the Rapid City Arts Council have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to continue collaborating in the areas of arts and STEM.  

Under the MOU, the two organizations agree to explore opportunities for collaboration that might include such things as:

●     Staff exchanges 

●     Joint research activities and publications

●     Encouragement of education and professional development for staff

●     Student participation 

“We are excited to continue exploring ways to partner with the Rapid City Arts Council,” says Mines President Jim Rankin, Ph.D. “This MOU not only benefits the university and Arts Council, but the broader Rapid City community as well.”

South Dakota Mines and the local art community already have a history of collaborating, and this MOU simply strengthens that relationship, says Jon Kellar, PhD, professor in the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering Department at South Dakota Mines.  

For example, when a group of contemporary artists were interested in incorporating local minerals into their pieces, they worked with Kellar and used the Mines lab to help characterize and process the minerals for use with ceramics.

Matthew Whitehead, lecturer at Mines and director of the APEX Gallery on campus, said in the past, Mines has also offered summer programs for educators that focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) projects. Project areas included glassblowing, welding and ceramics. 

Jacqui Dietrich, director of the Rapid City Arts Council, said another example is metalwork and casting. “Our community arts center doesn’t have the space to be able to provide studio or sculpture equipment,” she said. “But we have artists who could use and benefit creatively from these resources that would also serve the student body.” With this MOU, there is the possibility of working out an arrangement where the Arts Council uses Mines facilities for such community education classes. “There’s such a huge potential for cross pollination of arts and engineering in this community,” she says.

Into the future, the MOU will help to solidify the relationship in existing and new areas, Whitehead said. For instance, the Rapid City Arts Council would like to expand photography resources. Whitehead would like to offer a photography class to students. If the Council is able to add equipment, Whitehead could explore using the Council facilities for a class. “We can explore all the possibilities,” he says. “It’s exciting.”

South Dakota Mines is not new to the arts-in-engineering philosophy. 

Mines introduced its new Arts + Engineering program in 2022, funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The program integrates art concepts into undergraduate engineering programs with the goal of increasing student innovation, creativity, collegiality and entrepreneurship “while broadening the undergraduate talent pool.”

“It’s about innovation and creativity,” says Kellar. “And ultimately preparing and graduating quality engineers.” 

Dietrich said the MOU between Mines and the Rapid City Arts Council builds upon a strong relationship that already exists and opens the door for opportunities for local arts, community members and students at Mines. She’s excited for what’s to come. “This is just a really unique partnership to foster interest in pursuing additional artforms,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to deepen the relationship in a way that will enhance community resources and creativity.”


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

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