Tele-Connecting to Engineering Studies

Hayden Taylor’s quest for the Iron Range Master of Science in Engineering



Hayden Taylor works full time at U.S. Steel. “Some days, when I don’t get out of work until late, it’s really tough to come home and keep going,” he says.

One night, there was no time for a bike ride on the nearby Mesabi Trail. There wasn’t even time for a quick run. He sat down with a textbook in his home office. “It just got to me. I knocked all the books off the desk. Some of them landed in the trash can. I opened the door and called, ‘I’m done’ to my wife.”

Her answer was, “Yeah, right. You have never quit anything in your whole life.” 
Jessica Taylor knows Hayden well. “She’s a wonderful person,” says Hayden.

“She laughed and that made me laugh. We watched a little TV, had a whiskey and Coke, and then I went back to work.”


Scholarly Goals

Hayden grew up in Denver. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 2014 as a mining engineer and then, for the next four years, worked for Cleveland Cliffs in Minnesota. That’s when he started the UMD Iron Range master’s program in engineering.

“The faculty have been really helpful. I give them a lot of credit for figuring out ways to make the program possible for me as a working professional,” says Hayden. For instance, he was able to take Organic Chemistry I and II at Hibbing Community College.

“I've gone this far with almost no trips to the Duluth campus,” he says. The teachers set up Skype classes, and they type instructions to Hayden as the classes progress. He’ll only have two classes left in Spring 2019 and then he is on to his thesis.

“I’m interested in it all, chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering,” Hayden says. He considered an MBA and double technical degrees. “I had to narrow my focus.”

Hayden took a hard look at his priorities. “I realized I was really interested in the recovery portion of the mining process, which is why I chose this degree,” he says.


Diving Deep

Hayden settled on chemical engineering. “It’s really fulfilling now. I enjoy it,” he says. “I’m diving deep into thermodynamics with Assistant Professor Sam Toan. The classes are coming easier, and I’m almost done.”

He gives credit to UMD for easing the journey. “Moe Benda is my advisor, and he’s great,” Hayden says. “There are so many people to thank, Mike Rother and Richard Davis in chemical engineering, and Elizabeth Hill who taught heat transfer. They showed me how to break all the steps down into understandable parts, and they’ve given me confidence to take my studies further.”

The upcoming thesis doesn’t bother Hayden. He doesn’t expect to find his books in the trash can again. He says, “I’ve struggled a little bit with the advanced sciences, but I’m not afraid of research. I really enjoy the literature review and am looking forward to utilizing all the knowledge gained from this master’s to advance the mineral processing field.”

“It’s all coming together,” Hayden says. He’s certainly on his way to academic and career success.