Charles Fairhurst - SME
Produced by AIME, 2023
Charles Fairhurst, founder of ITASCA International Consulting Group, has established a remarkable 75-year career in mining and rock mechanics spanning rock drilling, subsurface developments, and nuclear energy testing. Fairhurst has worked across the world with top rock mechanics people from Brazil to Sweden and reminisces on the series of serendipitous encounters that evolved and shocked his career. Charles grew up in a mining community in England at the height of World War II, but his journey into mining engineering didn’t begin until he signed up for the mines to complete his mandatory national military service. Fairhurst went on to complete his PhD at the University of Sheffield, and he was asked to come to the University of Minnesota to pursue a post-doc. After coming to Minnesota, Fairhurst decided to stay in the US and embark on a 40-year journey with UMN going from professor to department head of civil and mining engineering to now professor emeritus. Fairhurst established the PhD program in rock mechanics at UMN and built a community among his students through the support of his wonderful wife, Margaret. Fairhurst’s career extends beyond research to his work on the Board of Radioactive Waste Management and as President of the International Society of Rock Mechanics. At the request of the President of France, Fairhurst formed an international research coalition and was honored by being indoctrinated as an Officer de Légion d’Honneur. An author of over 100 publications, Charles remains excited for the future of mining technology and the role of professional societies in the careers of next generation engineers.