BS, Geological Engineering with a Minor in Mining, Michigan Tech, 2008
Current position: Geological Engineer, Cliffs Natural Resources
“When I first started college, everyone told me that it really didn’t matter what your major is when you start out because most likely it will change. This proved entirely false in my case,” says Polster Crum. “After taking my first geology classes, I knew that was the right decision for me. Dr. Bill Gregg was a particular influence on her studies. “He brought his industry experience and wisdom to the classroom to make the material interesting, applicable to real world examples, and easy to comprehend. Dr. Gregg is someone I still look up to and respect. I feel very lucky to have had him as a professor.”
Polster Crum recalls the summer field course, 10 weeks long. “The field experience creates a bond between the students because you’re all day together in the woods mapping geology and then long hours in the lab writing reports. We all learned more in the field classes gaining hands-on experience than sitting in a lecture hall. The experience develops respect for the field, friendships between students, and unity within the department unlike any other discipline at Michigan Tech.”
A tour of the Tilden Mine during Summer Field Geology was also influential in her life. “That was the day when I decided to focus my studies toward the mining aspect of geological engineering. Given the opportunity to see different career options in the field, I was able to change the direction of my future.”
The senior design program at Michigan Tech is also directly related to her current success. “There were five people on my team and we all had career aspirations in the mining industry. However, since Michigan Tech no longer offered a mining major, there was no project available in our desired field.” So the group decided to take matters into their own hands, finding a senior design project by talking to companies themselves. “The GMES department gave us the academic freedom to pursue a unique project—a Slope Stability Analysis at the Tilden Mine for Cliffs Natural Resources. That’s where I met the wonderful people I work with today—my senior design project resulted in a summer internship with Cliffs and later, a full time job. The members of my senior design team are now working successfully in the mining industry, as well.”
Polster Crum is now a Geological Engineer with Cliffs Natural Resources, a diverse mining company with operations all over the world. She works within a department that provides global research and technical services to all of the operations. “I love my job because it involves traveling to different locations and being involved in many resources.” Her projects include geologic computer modeling of coal and iron-ore deposits along with exploration drilling programs and reserve analysis. I also love making friends and being part of organizations. Learning time management skills and exactly how much I can handle at once was a very important lesson I learned at Michigan Tech. It’s helped throughout my life and career ever since. The best part of my college experience was the people I met and the friendships created throughout my years at Tech. My best friends today are still the same people I met in college, and I hope we will stay in touch for many years to come. Michigan Tech is also where I met my wonderful husband, Allen!”
Her advice to a student who is considering the geosciences? Think about what you like to do. Do you like to be outside? Do you like to travel? Do you like science, puzzles, looking at/creating maps? Geological Engineering involves all of these activities no matter what you do with your degree. If you are still unsure, then I’d advise you to take GE 2000: Understanding the Earth. It’s a science class with a lab that counts as credits for almost any major. If you find it interesting, then maybe geology is right for you.