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Jaisen Kohmuench '95, '97, '00

Jaisen Kohmuench with his family in Venice, Italy. Pictured from left are Jaisen, Kathy, Nick, Jake, and Nate.
Jaisen Kohmuench with his family in Venice, Italy. Pictured from left are Jaisen, Kathy, Nick, Jake, and Nate.

Jaisen Kohmuench

Class of ‘95, ‘97, ‘00
Chief Operating Officer at Eriez

As the chief operating officer, I am responsible for elevating and driving operational results across nine manufacturing facilities, 15 sales offices, and numerous joint ventures and strategic alliances within the Eriez corporation. As a doctoral candidate, I had the opportunity to work closely with Eriez on novel mineral separation equipment, which ultimately led to my hire as a process engineer. As a professional engineer, I continue to keep up with my passion, minerals processing, though I am now more involved with driving business strategies and implementing change across the organization. 

My family and I have resided in Erie, Pennsylvania, for most of my professional life. However, during a three-year secondment, I had the opportunity to head up our Australian subsidiary. When time allows, my family and I try to soothe our collective travel bug with trips to experience other cultures.

How did the college equip you for the “real world”?
The mining and minerals engineering department at Virginia Tech does an excellent job of making sure that students have access to industry. This was especially true as a doctoral candidate when I had the opportunity to work with Eriez. I had an integral role in the development of several of their patented technologies, which were tested on-site at operating plants. As such, I had constant opportunities to network with seasoned professionals and develop a proper understanding of what was required to be a professional in my field.

What was a project that you worked on while at Virginia Tech?
As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to help develop a novel flotation device, the HydroFloat, which was initially developed for the phosphate industry. This project required many long hours on the road and away from campus. What is truly exciting is that it has real-world implications, and is currently being deployed over the entire mining sector. It will ultimately help in mining sustainability by reducing water and energy consumption.

My fondest memories from my time in the College of Engineering are…
I remember working late nights in the mining computer lab trying to finish our senior project. This was 1995, the year that the Hokies won the National Invitation Tournament. I specifically remember watching the championship game win from a classroom across the hall and then heading back to the computer lab to finish our work before watching the sun rise from the Holden Hall steps.

Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means...
Being part of a family larger than you could ever expect. Given the extreme size of the mining and minerals industry, it is surprising how small our field can seem. I've come to realize that it should never be a surprise to see another Virginia Tech alum in the room. There's always a great connection between the Hokie family. Speaking of connections, I am one of at least six Hokies at Eriez. Go Hokies!

The guiding principle for my work is to…
My guiding principle is to always find a solution for my customer that makes the most sense and that will exceed their expectations. This generally has to be done through collaboration and with integrity. If we can challenge the traditional way of doing things, we'll almost always come up with a great solution.

Who was the faculty member that shaped you the most?
Professor Jerry Luttrell was my master’s and Ph.D. advisor. He taught me the value of really enjoying what you're working on and how your passion can become your calling.

I’ll never forget how Professor Luttrell loved anything Hokie football or basketball related. We would spend Saturdays at his home with his family and other grad students watching hours upon hours of football. After watching the Hokie game, we’d watch any other game that could affect the Hokies’ chances of advancing.


B.S., Mining and Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1995
M.S., Mining and Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1997
Ph.D., Mining and Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2000