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tory to the higher work of the other schools, two great advances would be made.
We should probably have perhaps half-a-dozen schools for mining engineers and twice that number for mine foremen. The mining schools of the first order might contain, together, a thousand students, and those of the second order perhaps four thousand.
The instruction of the latter might be partly by correspondence and partly personal, so that the actual needs of the miner could be met. The object of such schools should be to fit the miner for those duties as foremen, which require some scientific training. It should also fit for the engineering schools the few among them who display signs of distinguished ability.
The six schools of mining engineering thus relieved of elementary work, and with bodies of students sufficiently great in numbers to secure that esprit de corps so necessary to any body of professional men, would be able to devote themselves to engineering work of a high order.
In each of these schools the same course of scientific training and the same firm grasp of principles which govern engineering practice are necessary. But it is impossible for any one of them to cover in detail the whole range of engineering practice, and it is a mistake even to attempt it.
With a firm grasp of principles, the student needs to acquire that art of all arts to the engineer, the faculty of working up his details as be needs them. Such a man succeeds where cyclopædic erudition fails. Important in the training of all engineers, this faculty is vital in all mining practice. It is best acquired, not by attempting a superficial knowledge of the details of the whole art, but by actually mastering, from the bottom up, the details of a few well-chosen typical branches.
Another great saving of energy would be effected if the schools were to select for this detailed study mainly, though not always exclusively, those branches locally most important and readily studied in detail. Particularly for summer-school and laboratory work, subjects could be selected by each school from one or more of the heads named in some such list as the following:
(1) Mining and dressing of coal and iron.
(8) Mining and metallurgy of quicksilver and the minor metals.
The whole mining field of the country could be thus divided up among a half dozen strong mining
*In making out the above list there have been grouped together things industrially related, for they are most readily studied at the same place. The first two subjects include over half the mineral workers in the United States.
schools, which taken together would better serve the needs of the community than any national school of mines that could be founded.
Suppose that each of these schools, after a sound course in the physical sciences and the underlying principles of the art, were to concentrate the energies of its advanced students on the detailed study, at first hand, of such technical questions of local importance as were within their time and power. Fewer subjects would be covered, but more engineers would be trained. Wisely administered, this policy would not lead to narrowness. For mining engineering, is above all things, the application of science to local conditions; and the student who has once clearly set before himself an end to be reached, has met the local conditions face to face, and has mastered them, is better equipped to triumph even in a widely different field, than he who has been painfully armed at every point with precedents. Precedent may make the lawyer and the scholar, but it can not make the man of science, and least of all the engineer.
The right to confer the degree of Mining Engineer should be confined to mining schools of the first order. The degree should be given only to those students who have not only successfully completed the full course of study, but who have had at least three years of practical experience in a position of subordinate responsibility. In short, it should be granted only to those who actually are engineers, and not, as now in many cases, to those who are only prepared to become such at the expense of their employer. The
degree should be open on equal terms to self-educated men.
The right to confer the certificate of Mine Foreman should be given to the mining schools of the second order. The certificates should be given only to those who had not only passed the necessary examinations, but had had at least five, or better ten, years of experience in the actual work of the miner.
Under these conditions there could be no question as to the competence of the holders of such certificates and degrees. Such papers would possess a real value.
It is unlikely that our national government will
assume the ownership of its mines, although our states still retain the right to prescribe, by legislation, the conditions of their safe working, as they do the sale and use of drugs and medicines. Some of
coal mining states have already required certificates of competency from mine foremen, and the sytems in vogue, though not always above criticism, have resulted in the saving of many lives. State requirements, fixing a certain standard of theoretical training and actual experience for all who practice mining engineering, would effect a large saving of lives, of capital, and of mineral wealth.
Such laws would prevent men without training from receiving positions of responsibility, and at the same time would leave great freedom of choice to the mine owner. But this is so foreign to our national tendencies that it is improbable that our mining schools will ever receive the backing that comes from the government control and onwnership of mines. Nevertheless, there
is such an inherent force in earnest convictions that even without it much may be accomplished by the co-operation of those who think and feel alike. The brilliant success of the American Institute of Mining Engineers is an example of what may be accomplished by private action. No law holds it together, yet few governments have done more to elevate the profession than this society. If half a dozen of the most active of our mining schools were to take common ground on some of these questions, and were to receive the hearty backing of the leading mining engineers and mine owners of the country, much could be done to establish, in fact, the bond of union between the mine and the mining school which in America does not exist in law.
As the writer has called special attention to the comparatively small number engaged in the mining industry, he cannot close this paper without one word more as to the importance of the miner to the nation. Less than two per cent. of all the wage earners in the country are engaged in the mineral industry, but fully eighty per cent. of all of them are directly dependent for their livelihood on either the production or the consumption of the miner.
Agriculture and mining are the only fundamental arts. Without agriculture, existence would be precarious; without mining, civilization impossible. Wood might indeed replace coal; but without iron and steel, without copper and lead, the locomotive, the ocean liner, the deep-sea cable and the overland wire, the press, the loom, the ploughshare and the pruning hook