Student Scholar: Brian Njenga

Tim Vanderpool

Brian Njenga moved to Minnesota at age 10, leaving behind his Kenyan homeland. But today, at 23, he spends plenty of time in Africa as a full-time employee with the strategic planning group of mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, based in Phoenix. In between, he gained a top-notch education in the UA’s Department of Mining and Geological Engineering, a program infused with the progressive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — or STEM — approach to learning. Those studies led to a pair of valuable internships, including one with Freeport.  

Nor did Njenga stumble down this path by accident. “I was looking around for a mining school,” he says.  “The UA had a very good program, and it was an easy choice for me.”

Today, the UA degree has only honed his enthusiasm for learning — and sharpened an appreciation for the importance of mining. “It comes down to basics,” he says.  “If you can’t grow it, you have to mine it.  When you think of the challenges, of the technology needed to get what we have — that’s what attracted me to mining. I was really intrigued 
by that.”

Vast professional opportunity didn’t hurt, either. “When I first started at the UA back in 2009,” he says, “an engineering adviser offered employment statistics about people who majored in science and engineering. It was interesting to see that the job placement and success rate was on your side if you majored in those fields.”

His education also led to travel. “I wanted to work in Africa, and make a difference there,” Njenga says. “Mining was my gateway to get involved on 
the continent.”