October 02, 2007

Underground support systems expert joins faculty

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — An expert in underground support systems has joined the Department of Mining & Mineral Resources Engineering at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

A.J.S. "Sam" Spearing joined the faculty this semester as an associate professor. He is one of five new faculty members joining the College of Engineering this fall.

Satya Harpalani, chairperson of the department, said SIUC has one of just 13 mining schools in the country. The department, which recently marked its 30th anniversary, has five faculty members and averages 50 to 60 graduate and undergraduate students.

"The Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering is fortunate to have Dr. Spearing as a faculty member," Harpalani said. "He comes to SIUC with over 25 years of mining experience in several different countries."

Spearing earned his doctorate in mining engineering in 1993 from the Technical University of Silesia, Poland. He also holds a bachelor's degree in mining engineering and a master's degree in civil engineering, both from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Spearing's research centers on mine design and underground support, particularly the practice of backfilling and "shotcrete," which involves spraying concrete to strengthen mines. He also studies polymer-based liners and has invented several support products, including a yielding rock anchor now marketed by a mine supply company. The anchors, known as Roofex, are used worldwide.