Kraig Grubaugh, 2010 graduate of the University of Idaho, has a bigger sense of community and workspace than most people. Grubaugh, who earned an M.S. in Hydrology at the UI’s Idaho Falls Center, literally brings a wealth of information to the classroom. Grubaugh is a mining engineer who has extensive experience in the development of natural resources. The resource that he works with…gold. Grubaugh has worked in Africa as a project manager for decades in mines in Ghana, Zimbabwe and SE Camaroon.
Success in any venture requires understanding the environment in which you are working: the culture, the physical surroundings, and the market for your product or service. Grubaugh is well trained and experienced as an engineer but, it is his innate curiosity about the world around him, the environment, which drives him.
“I like to know how we got to where we are and why we are doing this or that in this manner.”
Raised in Magna, Utah in a family that proudly lists that area as home since about 1847, Grubaugh panned for heavy minerals at an early age. This interaction with Earth’s treasures sparked his interest in history and geology which led to chemistry for metallurgy and anthropology to discover more about history. As he grew older and more educated (he also has a graduate degree in civil engineering from Penn State) he advanced his understanding of statistics, engineering, math and foreign language.
Working in Africa with gold developed his comprehension of the meaning of supply and demand as well as honed his skills in working with people and engaged his appreciation of the differences and similarities in cultures.
“As I worked with the people in Ghana, the Old Gold Coast region, I learned the meaning and importance of rituals. Before beginning any development of the area, before any ground was disturbed, we met personally with the locals. The big meetings are a part of the social and traditional nature of doing business. We needed and wanted to connect with the people and they with us.”
The meetings served to allow all of the community to be witnesses and participants in the agreements.
Miners and mining do not always get good press for being environmentally conscience or people friendly, however, even a brief conversation with Grubaugh leaves one with a very different and much more positive impression.
“I am proud to call myself a miner and to be part of the backbone of society. Mining is as vital as the breath we all take. The oldest mine in the world is 70,000 years old. Mining predates farming.”
He offers a few of the mined resources that we use in everyday life such as gold for computer microprocessors, clay (kaoline) for dishes, petroleum for fuel, and graphite for pencils. The marble used in the Sistine Chapel was mined before becoming a work of art. The elements used in nuclear medicine are mined and the list goes on.
Grubaugh hasn’t traveled to Ghana as much recently, focusing instead on completing the degree in Hydrology.
“I’ve always had an interest in hydrology. When my wife and I made SE Idaho our base, I looked around to see if I could take a course or two at University of Idaho. UI has a good reputation in the mining industry. I found this degree, talked to Dr. Gary Johnson in Idaho Falls and here I am, newly graduated.”
So where does this multi-faceted graduate go from here? Grubaugh is considering returning to West Africa, specifically Liberia. He considers SE Idaho to be home, and doesn’t plan to leave permanently.
“People in this area are what I call muddy boots people. They are not pretentious and are easy to be around. We enjoy it here.”
Grubaugh considers it a “privilege” to be able to work with nature’s resources wherever they may be in the world.