It is an honor and privilege to serve as a Secretary- General of the Society of Mining Professors (SOMP) / Societät der Bergbaukunde (SDB).
I would like to thank very much our previous Secretary-General, Prof Bruce Hebblewhite of the University of New South Wales, for his commitment, hard work and vision in leading SOMP to the thriving and vibrant Society it is today. Much of what we have today is a direct result of his leadership, and we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. Over the last decade, and under Bruce’s leadership, the SOMP has substantially grown internationally, but more importantly, we have seen membership representation from virtually every major mining and mining-educator country in the world. We have seen an increase in participation of junior members; growth in regional meetings being held all over the world and greatly contributing to improvements in mining education in many countries; the increased level of activities by our various SOMP committees on a range of projects; and development and implementation of our SOMP Strategic Plan, which is actively guiding so many of our initiatives. Congratulations to Bruce for a great job he did and for cementing an incredible legacy with SOMP that will serve many generations to come. He has been an outstanding leader, there is little doubt that he will be truly missed as the Secretary-General; but his legacy will live on for decades to come.
If there is one word to describe the state of SOMP, then it is the growth. We are growing in terms of number of activities, number of SOMP members, and number of opportunities for our members. Since its inception in 1990, during a special inaugural meeting of 20 professors, hosted by the Montanuniversität in Leoben, Austria, the Society functioned primarily as a European entity of senior academics in the mining engineering discipline. The Society is considered the natural successor of the historic Societät der Bergbaukunde, formed in the early 18th century and recognized as the world's first international scientific society. By 2018, after almost 28 years of operation, Society membership has increased to almost 350 members representing nearly 150 mining schools in 50 countries. What an outstanding achievement, and these numbers are destined to grow.
SOMP has promoted mining engineering as an engineering discipline, and facilitated information exchange, research, teaching and other collaborative activities among its members; and SOMP will continue to be the leading international society for mining schools professionals, recognized for effective networking; fostering collaboration and innovation in research, teaching and learning practices; and relevance and impact for the global mining sector and society at large. The Society will be at the forefront of today’s challenges facing mining engineering education, and we will passionately contribute towards a sustainable minerals supply for society through actively developing and supporting the mining engineering discipline; development of long-term professional relationships; exchanging innovative experience in teaching and learning practice; sharing research experiences, capabilities and future challenges; fostering professional career development and social awareness; and providing timely, authoritative and independent comments on relevant global issues.
There have been a number of exciting SOMP activities through the Education Committee; Research, Development and Industry Committee; Members Development Committee; Capacity Building Committee; and at our general annual and regional meetings. I invite you to get actively involved with one of our committees, our meetings, and contribute to our SOMP vision and mission. Networking opportunities and development of long term professional relationships at our meetings are unparalleled. Many of our joint research and educational projects and other collaborative efforts among our members are initiated at these meetings. Some achievements to date include: assisting with capacity building in many developing countries; assistance with curriculum development and teaching by multiple SOMP universities; sharing innovative teaching technologies; collaborative international research projects such as Mines of the Future, joint peer-reviewed journal and conference papers and presentations; collaborative teaching models; innovative teaching and learning/assessment tools; staff/faculty exchanges and visits; staff/faculty referencing for promotion; international benchmarking of curricula and of staff/faculty profiles, etc. The SOMP annual and regional meetings have been tremendously beneficial for the junior members who have been able to land academic jobs.
SOMP members have access to all presentations and electronic material that were generated during past general annual and regional meetings. I invite you to browse our SOMP website and learn more about the SOMP and its mission, programs, governance, structure and global focus. In June 2020, the Society published a 30 year anniversary volume which is available here.
I would like to thank you very much for your contribution and active involvement in our activities, and I do hope you will continue to support our Society. From a personal experience, SOMP has brought a tremendous positive impact to my career development and a long-term friendship with many SOMP members. SOMP has been my family since 2006, and it has brought a huge positive impact on both my professional and personal life, and I have been fortunate that I have had a chance to be a part of this wonderful family.
Please don’t hesitate to let the President and/or I know how SOMP can support your continued professional development. I look forward to serving you all and continuing to build our Society.
Professor Vladislav Kecojevic
Robert E. Murray Chair and Professor
Department of Mining Engineering
Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
West Virginia University
1374 Evansdale Drive, Room 365A MRB, Morgantown, WV 26506, United States