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“The best part is seeing these big guys who don’t think they’ll get scared come running full-speed out of the mine,” says Barbara Robertson with a smile.
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Robertson, longtime administrative assistant in the mining engineering department at S&T, has been involved with S&T’s Haunted Mine since it began 15 years ago. The annual student project is a lot of work, she says, but also a lot of fun.
“Every year the special effects team comes up with something new,” she says. “One year they created a platform that people were convinced took them stories down into the mine.”
In 15 years, Robertson has only missed one Haunted Mine weekend (to attend a wedding). She sells tickets from a little structure students built for her years ago, after watching her hold an umbrella over her head in the rain.
“The students take good care of me,” she says. “We’re like a family in this department.”
Before the Haunted Mine was created in 1997, fundraising efforts by mining engineering students at S&T weren’t very successful. “Most of their fundraisers brought in less than $20,” says Robertson.
“Some people didn’t think the Haunted Mine would work, but it raised more than $2,700 that first year,” she says. “Paul Worsey (professor of mining engineering) always supported the idea though. He knew people would come.”
Initially, the only student organization involved in the event was the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME). In 2000, Women in Mining, the International Society for Explosives Engineers, and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association joined the effort.
“Last year the students raised more than $15,000,” says Robertson. She says all of the proceeds go to the student groups. The funds are divided among them based on the number of hours their members work on the event. The money is primarily used to fund student attendance to conferences.
“In the past, only four or five students could attend an SME conference,” she says. “This year 37 students got to go and the most that any of them had to pay was $75.”
Story by Linda Fulps
Video by Terry Barner