Erik Westman joined Virginia Tech’s "Curious Conversations" to share his insights on how machine learning and autonomous technologies are impacting the mining industry as well as what Virginia Tech is doing to prepare students for the future of the industry.

About Westman

Westman is a professor in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering and oversees Virginia Tech’s Center for Autonomous Mining.

Three takeaways from the conversation

  • During the last three decades, there’s been a shift from Virginia Tech graduates generally going to work in coal mines in Appalachia to mining for a variety of different materials all across the globe.

  • Some aspects of autonomous technology – such as driverless haul trucks - have been successfully used in mining operations for close to two decades.

  • Virginia Tech’s Center for Autonomous Mining now has an equipment simulator that allows students to learn how to operate a front loader, excavator, and haul truck.  

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About the podcast

"Curious Conversations" is a series of free-flowing conversations with Virginia Tech researchers that take place at the intersection of world-class research and everyday life. Produced and hosted by Virginia Tech writer and editor Travis Williams, university researchers share their expertise and motivations as well as the practical applications of their work in a format that more closely resembles chats at a cookout than classroom lectures. New episodes are shared each Tuesday.


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