Raja V. (Raj) Ramani devoted nearly his entire career to educating the mining industry. He has touched the lives of thousands of industry leaders through his 50+ year affiliation with The Pennsylvania State University. He has also volunteered countless hours to the industry through his contributions to the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME), the National Academies and others.
Born in Madras, India, Raj was educated in the Calcutta public schools and the Indian School of Mines, where he received a BS in mining engineering with honors in 1962. He joined Bengal Coal Co. and worked his way to First-Class Mine Manager in 1965 before immigrating to the US and earning his MS and PhD in 1968 and 1970 from Penn State.
Raj joined the faculty at Penn State in 1970 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mineral Engineering. He rose to Associate Professor in 1974 and full Professor in 1978. He was Chairman of the Mineral Engineering Management (MEM) Section from 1974 to 2001 and Head of the Department of Mineral Engineering from 1987 to 1998. This department was home to Mining Engineering, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, Mineral Processing, MEM, Geo-Environmental Engineering and Industrial Health and Safety. In 1998, he was the first appointee to the George and Anne Deike Chair in Mining Engineering.
Raj taught many undergraduate and graduate courses and coached hundreds of graduate students to their degrees. After obtaining his Professional Engineering (PE) license in 1971, he developed a short course to prepare aspiring engineers for taking the mining PE exam. The course was adopted by SME in 2002 and continued to be guided by Raj for many years. He published over 200 papers, coauthored a textbook on mine ventilation and air conditioning, contributed 25 articles to handbooks and encyclopedias and edited the proceedings of 15 symposia. Raj researched a variety of subjects that were funded by major scientific and mining-focused research agencies. He was Co-Director of three research centers: The Generic Mineral Technology Center on Respirable Dust (1983-98), The National Mined Land Research Center (1983-98) and The Standard Oil Center of Excellence in Longwall Mining (1983-89). He was Director of the Penn State Miner Training Program from 1992 to 2001.
Raj joined SME in 1966 and served on over 40 committees. He was SME President in 1995, President of the SME Foundation (2001-2004) and sat on the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers’ Board of Trustees. A winner of several prestigious awards, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005 and served on committees that evaluated many of mining’s hottest topics. Raj has served on several expert panels for US and state government agencies. He has been a consultant to international agencies and mining companies world-wide on health, safety, productivity and environmental issues.