Former EMS department head Falkie inducted into Mining Hall of Fame

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Thomas V. Falkie, a distinguished alumnus who served as head of the Department of Mineral Engineering (the predecessor to the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering) from 1969 to 1973 at Penn State, was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame (NMHF) on Sept. 23 at the annual National Mining Hall of Fame Induction Banquet in Denver.

Falkie’s selection for induction into the NMHF is the culmination of a lifetime career across the minerals and mining industry, academia, government and professional societies, which have demonstrated a pattern of integrity and sustained excellence, according to the NMHF.

In a career spanning six decades, Falkie’s contributions to the industry bridged the disciplines of science, engineering, technology, management, education and policymaking. He was a pioneer in the utilization of computers for planning, designing and managing mineral industry operations. As a forceful spokesperson for the mineral interests of the nation before Congress, Falkie has made substantial contributions to national mineral and energy policy, mineral research and development and environmental planning.

Coming from an athracite coal-mining family, Falkie said he’s most proud of earning his way to a doctorate in mining engineering while having a successful career in industry, government and academia.

“It is hard to describe how thrilled I am to get this award,” Falkie said. “My father had an eighth-grade education and he and my mother wanted more for me. Coming from humble roots to a top award is a great thrill, which my family will always remember. The entire town of Mount Carmel has been sending notes to and calling my sister Sugar (Sandra), who still resides in Mount Carmel.”

Tom’s wife, Jean, also was from the nearby mining town of Shamokin, Pennsylvania.

Falkie has been recognized by his peers for advocating for and advancing the mineral and mining industry. He received the Charles Rand Memorial Gold Medal, the Erskine Ramsey Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

From 1969 to 1973, Falkie steered the Penn State program on a continued path to being one of the nation’s best by expanding the scope of teaching and research activities into management and environmental conservation. Throughout his career he actively supported mineral education programs with advice and counsel, personal and corporate contributions, and participation in fundraising activities.

“Penn State’s mining program has always been one of the best in the country,” Falkie said. “The program is sought after by students around the globe. Penn State has also done outstanding research and has developed faculty members for other schools.”

Falkie served as the director of the United State Bureau of Mines (USBM) from 1974 to 1977, where he was a champion for the industry before U.S. Congress. As a member of several advisory panels to the National Research Council, United Nations and U.S. government, he made substantial contributions to national mineral and energy policy, mineral research and development and environmental planning in mining. After serving in Washington, Falkie was president and CEO of Berwind Natural Resources until retirement.

Falkie received his bachelor of science, 1956; master of science, 1958; and doctorate, 1961; degrees in mining engineering from Penn State. He was the first doctorate recipient in the U.S. in the field of operations research/management science applications in mining engineering. He has authored or given more than 200 publications and speeches in his field.

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Last Updated September 28, 2017