Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers Rosemont Copper electrical, mechanical engineers mentor iSTEM students

TUCSON (September 23, 2013) – Rosemont Copper team members Clarissa Barraza and Ronald Tornberg are giving back their time to inspire future engineers through iSTEM, a three-year collaboration with the University of Arizona (UA)-Southwest Institute for Research on Women and the StrengthBuilding Partners and funded by the National Science Foundation.


Barraza and Tornberg mentored students from Hohokam Middle School to explore STEM activities and opportunities for careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Each of them is contributing approximately 60 hours a year to iSTEM mentoring.


“Having mentors who are professionals in the iSTEM fields add a powerful component, sharing with the students real life experience of what it’s like to work in these areas,” said Pamela Clark-Raines, President of StrengthBuilding Partners. “Knowing these professionals, the students see they are truly no different from themselves. This mentorship opens their minds to the future and the opportunities for career choices.”


“One of our corporate goals is to support STEM education and supporting our staff to volunteer for iSTEM was rewarding for our engineers and helps students learn that these fields are fun and a great career opportunity,” said Rod Pace, Rosemont Copper President & CEO. “This program encourages future engineers to be inspired and continue on the STEM path to think beyond high school.”


Barraza, Rosemont Copper’s senior project engineer, was at a UA WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) reception where she heard more about the iSTEM program.  Listening to the details, Clarissa was moved to participate and contacted the iSTEM organizer. While iSTEM is focused on schools located in economically depressed areas, Barraza feels this is such an important program she hopes the mentorships expand to all schools.


Currently, Barraza’s experience is with Rosemont as a Sr. Project Engineer.   She has had previous experience with other mining consulting firms as a Mechanical Engineer in various projects. She believes in the importance that all children should be made aware of how much is out there for them in the science and math fields. “Engineering is not difficult; you just have to be determined,” she explained, regarding her studies to complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering degree with an emphasis in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University.


One of her favorite field trips with her student involved a visit to the planetarium at the Flandrau Science Center on the UA campus. While there, both learned a lot from the astronomy activities and it became a powerful moment for the student to see that gaining knowledge is a life-long learning experience.


Barazza said the iSTEM program teaches some basic physics and its applications in hope that when the kids see things work they’ll know why it works which will hopefully lead to becoming more curious about engineering.  At the moment, this program is focusing on Native Americans and economically challenged groups. She’s hoping this will be a way to promote diversity in the engineering field with women and minorities.


Another Rosemont Copper team member who shares this passion of giving back to the next generation is Ronald Tornberg, a Senior Electrical Engineer at Rosemont since 2010. His duties include coordinating and directing electrical engineering efforts. In his 35 years of experience, he has worked globally serving as the Electrical and Instrumentation & Controls department manager and project lead for various mining engineering companies.


He gives his time to the iSTEM program because he believes it is important to inspire our youth towards engineering since there is not only a shortage of mining electrical engineers, but engineering in general. 


He feels engineering may not be an attractive field for young students who are choosing a career but hopes to change that attitude with at least his 6th grade mentee, inspiring the student with monthly field trips like the Pima Air and Space Museum. He feels iSTEM benefits young people by giving them a future connection to science and also the confidence to continue with their newly developed interest.  


When asked to give advice to the younger generations who are thinking of following the engineering path he says “do not believe that achieving an engineering degree in college is too difficult.” He is a Wildcat, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona.


For more information you can reach November R. Papaleo, Ph.D., Director of Women in Science and Engineering at the University of Arizona at (520) 626-9152 or email her at



The Rosemont Copper project is located in Pima County, approximately 30 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona, and contains a world-class open-pit copper/molybdenum/silver deposit.  Located in an existing mining district, Rosemont Copper will set a high standard for sustainable mining practices, including using solar power, consuming less than half the water as traditional mines, and reclaiming the site from the start of operations as permanent open space. Arizona, the copper state, produces 65 percent of the United States’ supply of copper on only a quarter of one percent of the state’s land. Rosemont Copper is expected to provide more than 10 percent of the U.S. copper supply while requiring less than half the land area of other Pima County mines.  A recent study by Arizona State University showed the region would benefit over the life of the mine, adding 406 direct and 1700 indirect jobs, $3 billion in increased personal income, $404 million in local taxes and $15 billion in local economic revenue. In 2012, Rosemont Copper received the Copper Cactus Award for Best Workplace. For more information, visit the Rosemont Copper website at


Published Date: 

05/27/2015 - 14:03

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