Meet Jamie Torske. Jamie is an Engineering Supervisor who works at the Black Thunder Mine in Wyoming. (Update: Jamie was promoted to Plant Superintendent in 2014.) Along with Jamie, there are more than 1,600 men and women who work at Black Thunder and Coal Creek mines. Jamie answered a few questions about her job and her role in getting electricity to our homes.
What kind of work do you do on a usual day?
My job is to figure out the best ways to move soils and rock from one place to another place so that we can uncover and mine the coal. For some parts of the day, I am indoors using computers to keep track of how much dirt and coal we moved. We also design the plans for what to do next and what equipment to use.
For other parts of my day, I am outside in the pits where the coal is mined. We want to make sure our plans are working the way they should.
The main goal of our work at the mine is to take coal out of the ground and send it to power plants so that it can be used to bring electricity to homes, schools, and businesses.
How did you become an engineer at a coal mine?
When I was in school, I always enjoyed science because it was very hands-on. I was also good at math, and both of those subjects are very important for engineers.
After I graduated from college, I found out about Thunder Basin Coal Company. They were looking for more mining engineers. I knew working with coal was a good job to have, because people will always need coal for electricity.
What do you like most about your job?
Working at a coal mine is exciting because things are always changing. I think it’s fun to try to think ahead and keep making things better by applying math and science every day.
I also love knowing that my job helps create the electricity that people use. Electricity makes our lights and computers and many other machines work. Coal mining is a huge part of keeping our country going.
What would you say to students who might want to be an engineer when they grow up?
I would tell students to be curious about how the world works. Ask questions. Maybe you’re curious about mining and machines, or maybe you like studying plants and animals. The math and science you learn in class might be a big part of your job someday. It might even help you make the world a better place, so keep learning and keep exploring the world around you.
Meet another person with a cool career in the coal industry: Wendy Hutchinson, who helps make sure her company is doing a good job reclaiming the mined land.
Be sure to see the accompanying lesson plan: Creating a Venn Diagram