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Meet the 2020 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award Recipients!

Melody Alsaker (ACM 10) graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a B.S. in Applied and Computational Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science, Melody Alsaker attended graduate school at Colorado State University, receiving an M.S. in Mathematics in 2012 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2016. She is currently a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, at the rank of Associate Professor beginning Fall 2021. Dr. Alsaker studies computational mathematics related to biomedical imaging technology, with a focus on reconstruction algorithms for Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT). As of 2021, she has published 13 peer-reviewed scientific papers dealing with computational medical imaging and has given presentations on her research at over 30 conferences and seminars throughout North America and Europe. 

Benjamin Bangasser (ChE 09) graduated from South Dakota Mines in 2009 and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2014. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on computational simulations of cancer cell migration. Following his Ph.D., he has worked as an R&D engineer, project manager, and process engineering manager in the coatings industry for Valspar and Sherwin-Williams in Minneapolis, MN. He has led new product development, polymer reactor design, and continuous improvement projects across multiple divisions and global regions of Valspar and Sherwin-Williams. He currently leads a team of R&D engineers focused on new product commercialization and process optimization.

Michael Barth (CE 09) B.S Civil Engineering, May 2009, Magna Cum Laude.  President of the Tau Beta Pi SD Alpha Chapter and selected as a SD Space Grant Consortium Fellow his Senior year.  Mr. Barth started at NASA as a summer intern in between his Junior and Senior year.  Upon graduation he resumed his career in the Construction of Facilities Division at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where he remains to this day working on exciting projects to build America’s Premier Spaceport.  He and his wife, Katharine, have 4 boys they are raising as the next generation of scientists and engineers.  

Trisha Beckering (IE 09) has spent the past 9 years at John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa. She is currently an Industrial Engineer at the Engine Works plant overseeing the operator processes in machining.  Before moving to Engine Works.  Trisha has spent 8 years working in machining at the Drive Train Operations plant, where she helped improve methods and processes across many machining departments. 

Tyler Blumenthal (MetE 10) has spent the last ten years advancing additive manufacturing technologies. Tyler has produced 4 patents and a number of published papers regarding 3D printing and its ability to provide unique opportunities in manufacturing. He currently is the Sales Manager at RPM Innovations, Inc. where he enjoys working closely with customers to integrate large format metal 3D printing for aerospace, space, and defense applications.


Jacob Boschee (Phys 11) is a System Administrator 2 with Advanced Research Computing at the University of British Columbia. He maintains high-performance computing resources utilized by many research groups on campus. In addition to maintaining an on-premises cluster, he assists researchers with gaining access to national resources and public cloud offerings.


Matthew DesEnfants (CSc 11)
Since graduating, Matthew has worked on several business-facing products as a software engineer in Microsoft Dynamics, Office 365, and TreasuryGo. His primary focus was initially high-volume data processing and integration, but later led projects in data analysis and corporate workflow management. To engage more directly with the end users of his software, Matthew joined Avanade as a software consultant. A project for Microsoft Treasury eventually turned into a spinoff company for which he is now the head of engineering — engaging directly with Treasury professionals to build the next era of corporate financial process and record management.

Katrina Donovan (Chem 10) completed two graduate degrees and became (and continues to be) very active in Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) outreach for K-12 students.  To date, Katrina has interacted with over 10,000 pre-college students in various STEAM settings and holds leadership roles in Boy Scouts of America and is a member of the South Dakota Mines Center for Alumni Relations and Advancement (CARA) board.  In addition to her community outreach and STEAM initiatives, she submitted three patents to the USPTO.  The patents utilized a tool she developed at HP, Inc. to quantify wetting phenomena in 3D printing technologies while working in the 3D Printing Department in Corvallis, Oregon.  Katrina is passionate about traveling and she had the privilege to travel internationally to present her research on complex fluid and powder interactions.  In the fall of 2019, Katrina joined the faculty ranks at SD Mines where is active in teaching and research.  Katrina graduated from Bennett County High School in Martin, South Dakota in 2006.  She and her husband, Travis Walker (ChE/Math 08), and two children, Dane and Kai, are happy to be living in the Black Hills and reunited with their Hardrocker family.

Jacinta Klabenes (MinE 10) Since graduating has had a random and varied experience, talk about an adventure! She has worked in three countries and has experience with mining projects/sites on three continents. These have varied from the warm/tropical conditions of Brazil, high elevation conditions in the Andes of Peru/Bolivia, to artic conditions in Canada. She has experience in both surface and underground mining; coal (UG/OP), potash (UG), oil shale (OP) and metal deposits (UG/OP). Her focus has shifted to underground metal mines since 2017. Her favorite, a new gold mine in artic Canada which will have some of the highest-grade open pits in the world. There are challenges with such a remote site and the combination make it an exciting project. Jacinta has professional engineering licenses in Utah, Nevada, British Columbia, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories.

Brandon Lampe (GeolE 09) is a Senior Technical Principal for WSP, where he specializes in the design and evaluation of subsurface caverns for the storage of liquid and gas.  Since 2019, Brandon has managed WSP’s Regulatory, Engineering and Geosciences Group, which is responsible for the permitting and design of solution-mined caverns and deep injection wells.  Brandon has completed a MSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, a PhD in Engineering from the University of New Mexico.  In 2017 Brandon returned to South Dakota and currently lives near Spearfish.

Jarod Luze (EE 09)
has worked as an electrical power engineering and project management consultant in the electric utility industry. He has been involved with the design and analysis of high voltage power systems for most of his career. Jarrod has worked at DGR Engineering since 2011 consulting for several electric utilities in the Midwest performing engineering and management tasks for the planning and construction of 5 kV—230 kV electric transmission lines, power substations, and distribution infrastructure. Jarrod has been a licensed professional engineer since 2014, and is currently licensed in the states of Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Danielle Olinger (Geol 09) is a consulting geologist for Rare Element Resources at the Bear Lodge Alkaline Complex rare earth element deposit. She has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey for the last 7 years. Most recently she researched rare earth element deposits. Most recently, Danielle was awarded for her work with the Secondary Transition to Employment Program- USGS Partnership (STEP-UP) which provides on-the-job learning opportunities for students with cognitive or other disabilities.

Justin Schmidt (CEng 09) has spent his twelve-year career as a software engineer at Garmin International, Inc. in Olathe, KS. His early years were spent in developing navigation applications for Android and iOS, involved in design and implementation. He is now a senior software engineer as a lead human machine interface developer on infotainment systems in the Automotive OEM department.  



Matt Schulte (ME 09)
has had roles of increasing responsibility at Burns & McDonnell.  In engineering large capital projects, Matt enjoys the challenge of meeting client design and budget requirements, and especially using engineering creativity for value engineering ideas that reduce costs or improve final products.  Matt spends much of his free time with his wife Rachel chasing their three boys.  Matt has stayed active in ASME and serves on the ME department industrial advisory board at SDSM&T.  Matt enjoys being part of a diverse, industrious, and bright alumni network – meeting and catching up with fellow Hardrockers is always a treat.

Mines Advancement Fund

The Mines Advancement Fund supports the greatest needs of our students and faculty, including scholarships, department resources, facilities updates, industry partnerships, and more. With every dollar gifted to the Mines Advancement Fund, the Center for Alumni Relations & Advancement raises an average of $9 more to support departments, scholarships, and programs. 
Consider designating your gift to the Mines Advancement Fund to maximize your influence at South Dakota Mines.