CoorsTek, Coors family extend Mines research fellowship through 2032

February 23 2024

Golden, Colorado —The CoorsTek Research Fellowship has brought 19 extraordinary PhD candidates to Colorado School of Mines since CoorsTek and the Coors family established it in 2014.

The program has been so successful that the company and family have extended funding through 2032 with a multi-million-dollar gift.

“This investment goes well beyond funding research,” said Randel Mercer, CoorsTek’s chief technology officer. “It is about building career pathways for future generations of engineers and scientists.”

Technical ceramics have an enormous range of critical applications, from biomedical implants and disc brakes to smart phone sensors and jet engine turbines.

CoorsTek Fellows work on scientifically interesting technical ceramics projects with many critical applications. They’re supported by Mines’ world-renowned materials science faculty.

“The Fellows program has allowed CoorsTek to interact with an extraordinary group of researchers through a platform that encourages a very diverse applicant pool,” Mercer said. “Their projects have covered a broad range of topics in materials science. All have yielded great learning experiences through failures, challenges and discoveries.”

Mines President Paul C. Johnson said the program exemplifies the power of university-industry collaboration.

"The CoorsTek Fellows program is a successful blueprint that we hope to replicate with support from other donors and industry partners," Johnson said. "We are very appreciative of the support from and our partnerships with CoorsTek and the Coors Family."

2024 CoorsTek Fellows Shannon Rogers, Savannah Ullrich, Nellie Pestian, Molly Brown, Alex Hughes, Sierra Astle, and Sienna Gonzalez.

The fellowship covers students’ academic costs and a stipend. It also gives them a liberating amount of scientific freedom and opportunities to connect with CoorsTek experts—advantages that set the program apart in an intensely competitive field to attract top academics from around the world.

“CoorsTek fellows get to follow their curiosity, unlike most PhD students who work on their advisors’ grants that come with milestones,” said Dr. Geoff Brennecka, associate professor in metallurgical and materials engineering, who directs the program. “Alongside the generous financial support, this freedom is really attractive and helps us bring some of the best graduate students to our program.”

Current CoorsTek fellows are working on projects in energy storage systems, fuel cells, water quality improvement and renewable energy, to name a few. Past fellows are working at national labs, like the NASA Ames Research Center and NREL, in manufacturing or starting their academic careers as postdocs.

“There are so many problems in the world that need the solutions that ceramics can provide,” Brennecka said. “Thanks to CoorsTek and the Coors family, our students have the flexibility to advance materials science and create those solutions.”

The 2014 gift that established the fellows program was part of a $27 million investment that helped build the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering facility, which fosters connections between students, faculty, researchers and industry professionals, and houses some of the most advanced analysis equipment at Mines.

“CoorsTek’s reinvestment in the fellows program is the latest milestone in the Coors family’s multigenerational partnership with Mines,” said Brian Winkelbauer, Mines Foundation president and CEO.

“We have a shared legacy of innovation, collaboration and pushing the leading edge of science and engineering to meet the world’s challenges,” he said. “Mines is incredibly grateful for their continued support.”

About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future. Learn more at

About CoorsTek
Founded in 1910, CoorsTek is a leading global manufacturer of technical ceramics. By leveraging expertise in engineering and materials science, CoorsTek provides solutions to complex technical challenges in the semiconductor, medical, automotive, aerospace, and other industries. With over 400 proprietary formulations, vertically integrated systems, and unparalleled process capabilities, CoorsTek partners with its customers to make the world measurably better.