My name is Lauren Hafla. I collected rocks from a very young age. When I was 10, I began participating in Science Fairs and won the State of MT Science Fair in 8th Grade. That summer, I attended a Mineral Education Program where I was introduced to various types of STEM careers including Mining. I enjoyed it so much that I attended college and received my Metallurgical Engineering degree. I then went to work as an engineer, an operator, on projects, in labs. That was 23 years ago.
What inspired you to explore STEM when you were young?
My mother was a math teacher and encouraged me to work hard in school. I loved rocks from the time I was little and I lived in a town where mining was a significant employer. The town where I grew up also had a university geared toward engineering. The ability for me to attend a local school, on scholarships sealed the deal for me.
What do you enjoy most about what you do in your STEM career?
The versatility and challenges that come with a career in mining are why I chose this career. Learning new mineral types, determining how exactly to get metals from these minerals, working together with people from all backgrounds and experiences, and learning something new each and every day are all draws for me when it comes to Metallurgy.
What is a fun, bizarre or insightful STEM fact about your field?
We mine in Australia, Africa, Canada, South America, Mexico and Colorado; its amazing to see the different cultures, to meet the native persons, and to support the communities in which we operate. Also, a metallurgist uses water, pressure, living organisms, heat to remove metal from rocks. How cool is that?