After 'TEEMS' orientation helps EMS alum, Rauch returns the favor

David Kubarek
May 25, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Tom Rauch left Penn State in 2013 with dual degrees in mining engineering and energy business and finance, he entered the extractive industries set on making an impact with his unique skill set of business acumen and passion for solving critical societal needs.

Rauch, who has a background in economics and also studied in China, knew he was entering an industry that would be called upon like never before to secure unprecedented amounts of metals and other rare Earth elements to pave the way for renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and electric vehicles. He saw a chance to increase our nation’s independence from foreign sources for these materials while adhering to more stringent environmental safeguards. And, he saw a chance to do it in a way that rewarded investors.

That’s exactly what Rauch has done. He’s helped fund, design and build massive industrial projects in Canada, Mongolia and Morocco, to name a few. Now he works as the director for technical services for the Pittsburgh-based industrial contractor McCarl’s, which has ties to the construction of Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, one of the nation’s largest active construction projects.

While at Penn State, Rauch had another unique perspective. As a graduate of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Energy, Business and Finance program, which is one of the college's largest, and the Mining Engineering program, one of the college's smallest majors by enrollment, Rauch was immediately impacted by the close-knit community.

It started at the college’s unique student-orientation experience known as TEEMS (Total Engagement with EMS) held annually at Lake Raystown Resort. That’s where Rauch met many of his closest friends. Through TEEMS, he surrounded himself with people not just looking to earn a Penn State degree, but those looking to get the most out of their experience.

“The people I met at TEEMS became my core group within the college,” Rauch said. “They were part of a community that was actively engaged on campus. TEEMS was my introduction to those who were going to raise their hands and say ‘hey, I want to do that. I want to be involved in this.’ I surrounded myself with all the other people who wanted to get the most juice from the squeeze while at Penn State.”

Now, through a donor match for a campaign to raise support for TEEMS, Rauch is helping to preserve the experience that got him started on the right path. He is providing a 1:1 match, up to a total of $5,000, for gifts to the program made through the Let’s Grow State site.

“There’s such a close-knit environment in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences,” Rauch said. “Now, can the college retain that? The risk is no. That’s why I think programs like TEEMS are a very good investment. I’m glad that the University is protecting it. As a member of the community who benefited from it, I also want to protect it.”

TEEMS is held in August before the start of fall semester and it’s designed for first-year students at University Park who are new to EMS. It pairs incoming students with upper-level student mentors, faculty, staff and alumni. It’s designed to make lasting connections that continue even beyond college. Many alumni mentors attended TEEMS.

Rauch used his Penn State experience to drive a career that’s focused on capital projects related to energy and extractive materials. He started in process engineering, which included everything from clean coal technology to pour gold bars. His job is to survey the industry for opportunities for investment, acquire investors, and build a team to see that the industrial project is completed.

He sees the extractive industries as being a huge player in the shift towards sustainable energy. One example, he says, is that the industry will be called upon to obtain more silver, iron, copper and other materials than ever before. They’ll also play a major role in securing rare Earth elements necessary for all sorts of everyday devices. Penn State just announced plans for a $1.2 million consortium to help solve the rare Earth elements societal challenge.

In a college that focuses on mining, energy, climate change and renewable energies, Rauch said he left Penn State with the tools to take a holistic approach to these problems.

Through efforts like TEEMS, and generous alumni support, he also found help all along the way. Now, he’s looking to pass that on to the next generation of students.

“I benefited immensely from alumni and scholarship,” Rauch said. “Whether that be from the department or from individual contributors, I was hugely supported by the industry and by the community. And these efforts went further than scholarship money. I was given awesome opportunities to learn and do a lot, not only while I was a student, but also while beginning my career. I am so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given.”

Contributions to TEEMS will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st-Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 16, 2021