Full Name: Rudrajit Mitra
Position: Associate Professor & Chair of Rock Engineering at the School of Mining Engineering, University of Witwatersrand
Date and Place of Birth: 9 August 1978, Kolkata, India
Education: PhD (Mining Engineering), MS (Mining Engineering), BE (Mining Engineering)
First Job: School of Mining Engineering, University of New South Wales
Personal Best Achievement/s: Voted best lecturer by students
Philosophy of Life: Work hard while enjoying life with your near and dear ones
Favourite Food/Drink: Love to eat; Drink white wine
Favourite Sport: Cricket
How did your career in the mining industry begin and where are you now?
Based on the results of my engineering score in India, I selected to study Mining Engineering, as this sector looked the most exciting to me. Since then, I have completed my Masters, PhD and am currently working as an academic at the School of Min-ing Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand. Before moving to South Africa, I was an academic at the School of Mining Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia.
Why did you choose Rock Engineering?
Since my undergraduate degree, where my first project was in the area of Rock Engineering, I have always enjoyed the chal-lenge of working with rocks. This discipline, armed with the growing power of technology, has the potential to transform the sector by supporting the global drive towards zero harm in mining; our work can help remove people from dangerous, high-energy areas in mines, and make the workplace safer.
Work hard while enjoying life with your near and dear ones
Please tell us a bit more about your career journey?
After finishing my undergraduate degree in India, I moved to the US to complete my Masters and PhD in Mining Engineering. While doing my research in Rock Engineering, I was involved in other research projects too, including Mine Ventilation and Virtual Reality. After graduating with my PhD, I was offered a job at the School of Mining Engineering at UNSW in Australia. The focus of my research and publications – I have published over 90 papers and reports – has been in the field of rock me-chanics and rock engineering, particularly in underground coal mining. My particular interest is in virtualisation technology and simulation, and I co-founded of the ‘Future Mining’ conference, that promotes innovation in mining and considers lessons and opportunities from other industries. The initiative is a forum for scientists, mine management, engineers, government, academ-ics and other stakeholders to visualise and work towards positive future scenarios for mining. This interest also led me to co-develop ViMINE, a scenario-based mine planning tool that helps mining engineering students to experience various aspects of a mining operation working together, integrating several types of simulation into one environ-ment. This is a practical way for students – in a classroom environment – to learn the complexity of mining systems, including finan-cial management and the impact of commodity price fluctuations. It is also a useful decision-making tool that takes into account the range of elements in mine feasibility.
What are some areas that you believe will become of increasing importance in the near future of the rock engineering discipline?
We are all aware that mines will become deeper in the future and we will face more challenges as a result. Innovation and technology will play a huge role in the future mining industry and will assist us, as researchers, to find innovative solutions that will increase the productivity and safety in mines. We also need to collaborate with other industries in our search for these innovative solutions.
What advice would you offer people aspiring to be in your position?
Work hard and think outside the box. This is important because universities are not only vital centres of learning; they also have a vital role to play in advancing our rock engineering practice – to develop safer ways to mine, and to harness the power of technology.
Who is your role model/ mentor?
My most important mentor was my Dad. He was always very supportive of me and told me to work hard and not just worry about the outcomes. The other person who has been a role model for me is Professor Bruce Hebblewhite. He has been in-strumental in my taking lead roles in various projects, and I always look to him for suggestions.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Work hard, but also enjoy quality time with your family.