The Delphos Mine Planning Laboratory congratulates its former director Nelson Morales Varela on his new position as professor in the Department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering (Département de Génies Civil, Geologique et des Mines, CGM) of Polytechnique Montreal, Canada.
Nelson Morales is a mathematical civil engineer from the University of Chile in 2002 and PhD in science from the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis in 2009. He was director of Delphos between 2010 and 2021, fulfilling an outstanding work at the head of the laboratory, positioning it internationally. The professor answers our questions and tells us about his career, the Delphos Laboratory and his future expectations.
How did you get to Delphos?
"I finished my PhD in 2007 and was hired by IM2 under a highly trained staff recruitment program. I worked there until 2009 when AMTC began its operation and I joined the Delphos Laboratory as a researcher. In early 2010 I took over the direction of the group."
What did it mean to you to lead the Delphos team?
"For me to lead Delphos was an extraordinary challenge and experience. At first, more than one person thought it would be the end of the laboratory, since I am not a miner by training nor did I have experience leading groups. But thanks to the tremendous commitment and work of the students and researchers of the laboratory, and the support of DIMIN professors and researchers from other universities, we were forming a group that far from becoming extinct, consolidated itself as a leading laboratory in Chile and a regional or even global reference."
How has the laboratory changed in these years under your direction?
"When I took over the management of the laboratory, we had the infrastructure (the physical space, a computing cluster and several desktop computers), there were a few master's students, a handful of publications had been made in conferences and the only funding secured was from the AMTC. When I left, the team was more than 20 people, counting 8 full-time researchers or engineers, we have made more than 100 publications in conferences and about 20 in international scientific journals, registered multiple software and delivered hundreds of licenses of such softwares. In that time, we executed several millions of dollars in projects, including AMTC, CORFOS or FONDEF basal projects that are competitive, or financed by the industry. We have graduated more than 50 students and 3 doctors in mining engineering (the first doctor in mining engineering who did his thesis in mining issues was Enrique Jélvez). We created the summer school, where hundreds of students from all over latin America have participated, etc."
How do you visualize your new job challenge?
“My new position is professor in the department of civil, geological and mining engineering (Département de Génies Civil, Geologique et des Mines, CGM) at Polytechnique Montreal, the most important in research in all of Canada. In this department I become part of the mining group, which is small, and in which I come to contribute my experience in design, planning and mining operations to address new challenges of mining, particularly in sustainability issues. For this reason, in addition to being a professor of the department, I am part of the Institute for Research in Mining and Environment (Institut de Recherche en Mines et en Environnement, IRME), where we seek to address the mining reality in a broad context, which minimizes the impact of mining on the environment and communities. My plan here is to work with an approach that I have always had and that is naturally multidisciplinary, given my original background as a mathematical engineer, to generate applied knowledge that mining companies can effectively use in their operations.”
What message would you deliver to the Delphos team?
“My message to the Delphos team is that they have to be proud of what they built and what they are part of, but also tremendously optimistic about what they can achieve for the future. They have all the tools and knowledge to continue growing as a group and the international benchmark they are.”
As a Delphos team we are confident that this new path taken by Nelson will be full of successes. Congratulations on the new challenge!