May 18, 2011

Society names Chugh 'Distinguished Member'

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A mining engineering faculty member at Southern Illinois University Carbondale received a high honor from an international industry group.

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration named Yoginder “Paul” Chugh a Distinguished Member at its recent meeting. Chugh, professor in the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering in the College of Engineering, was honored for his long-time service and accomplishments in the field.

Chugh said he was very pleased and humbled by the honor, which is received by less than 2 percent of SME’s membership and only about four to five members annually.

“This is an outstanding achievement that I have longed for years,” he said. “It is a highly competitive process to achieve the honor. It feels good to be part of the elite group and it has been a long haul to get there.

“On the light side, it was one of the items in my bucket list and achieving it means I can spend more time on other items,” he said.

An SIUC faculty member since 1977, Chugh has been a lead researcher in more than 90 research projects that received more than $20 million in funding from sources outside the University. He owns or co-owns eight patents and has designed everything from mine roof truss systems to dust control systems to systems to manage the waste products associated with coal mines. He’s authored around 200 articles for journals and presented papers at top conferences all over the world while shepherding dozens of advanced-degree-seeking students through their dissertations and research projects. He’s also received many University awards, including outstanding department teacher, outstanding college teacher and outstanding faculty member.

Chugh recently received yet another patent on a mine-related invention called Atlas Cribs, which provide more efficient way to brace mine ceilings than traditional methods. Another invention Chugh and his team are perfecting has the potential to greatly cut down on the dangerous and unhealthy dust that is suspended in the air inside underground mines.

In 2009, China invited Chugh to participate on council that examined that country’s current and future approach to coal-based energy. As a member of the China Council Task Force on Sustainable Use of Coal, Chugh joined scientists and engineers from France, Canada, Denmark and China in studying the issue.

Chugh said his first priority, however, is students, whom he wants to excel. He emphasizes fundamental engineering skills for undergraduates, as well as interdisciplinary learning. His many graduate students learn leading research methods.