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A Signature Mines+ Journey Through Engineering, Arts, and Sciences
The Thorson First-Year Honors Program is a unique and collaborative approach to learning that uses real-world problems to introduce students to the role engineers and scientists play in a fast-changing world. Working closely with some of the best teachers across the humanities, in engineering, and in the sciences, students in the Honors community come to see how the global challenges of the future require innovative and creative thinking.
The curricular component of the Thorson First-Year Honors Program is a 2-semester multidisciplinary course sequence called IDEAS – Innovation and Discovery in Engineering, Arts, and Sciences. In the IDEAS course sequence, students explore critical-thinking, design, and ethical problem-solving through a multitude of lenses: they learn how to think like an artist, like an engineer, like an urban planner, like a community leader, like a poet, and like a scientist.

The course sequence fulfills core curriculum requirements for all majors at Mines by replacing two required core courses (HASS 100 Nature and Human Values and EDNS 151 Introduction to Design).

Co-curricular components of the program include scholarships, an international trip over Winter Break, a Themed-Learning community in the residence halls, and more. Through all of these experiences and interactions, learning extends past the traditional boundaries of the classroom into the lasting friendships that students develop over the course of their freshman year.

The Winter Break trip is one of the most memorable parts of the Program. This year, we took a group of students to Costa Rica to explore a rainforest and examine the boundarites and interactions between the natural and human-made worlds. Last year, we took a group of students to Barcelona, Spain to study smart-city technology and the intersection between arts, culture, and engineering.

The Thorson First-Year Honors Program has been designed to prepare students to succeed in upper-level University Honors and Scholars Programs, such as the McBride Honors Program, the Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program, and more.
All students that are accepted to Mines will receive an email inviting them to apply to the Thorson First-Year Honors Program. In this competitive application process, we try to identify the incoming students that are best-suited for this signature learning experience – those that possess intellectual curiosity, leadership potential, community engagement, creativity, and respect for others.

On top of that, we try to identify those students that are comfortable with the ambiguity inherent in the grand challenges of this fast-changing, multicultural, and globalized earth: there are no easy answers here. Our Thorson alumni report that the course “changes the way they think,” and provides a creative outlet that balances their engineering courseload.

Join Our Community!

The Thorson First-Year Honors Program is a great way to begin your Mines experience. Have questions about the program? Drop us a line at, or if you’re on campus, swing by the Honors House (1700 Illinois).

Fall 2019 applicants

All students that are accepted to Mines may apply to Thorson through the Applicant Portal.

Applicants who meet the January 15 priority deadline will receive an admission notification by February 15.

The application closes on March 1st, and final admission notifications will go out in early April. Applicants who complete the Thorson application will automatically be considered for scholarships; those students awarded scholarships will receive that notification concurrent with program acceptance.

We are aware of delayed admissions decisions and are monitoring this process closely. If any updates to the Thorson application deadline arise, they will be posted here and included in accepted student emails. Thank you for your patience.