Friday, January 7th, 2011 - 1:50 pm

Alumni Focus

Meet Krasimir ‘Krasi’ Zahariev, M.S. Engineering 2005

…Research and Development Engineer, Layne Christensen Drilling    Technology Center

He assisted in the rescue of 33 Chilean miners last fall


Megan Summers is a freelance writer and contributor to Purdue Calumet INSIGHT

From building model airplanes to playing a role in last fall’s rescue of 33 Chilean miners, the career of Bulgaria native Krasimir “Krasi” Zahariev has been impressive.

Growing up, Zahariev idolized his grandfather who was a pilot, and he spent hours building model airplanes. “I was always inclined toward technical things,” Zahariev said. “I guess you could say I turned my hobby into my career.”

After earning a master’s degree in machine tool design in Bulgaria, Zahariev wanted to continue his studies abroad. He felt a move to Chicago – a city with the largest Bulgarian population outside of Bulgaria – would afford him numerous opportunities. Panayot Bonev, a long-time friend and Chicago resident, helped make Zahariev’s move possible. A career mechanical engineer, with degrees in nuclear and electrical engineering, Bonev was very supportive of Zahariev’s desire to move to Chicago.

Bulgarian native finds fit at Purdue Calumet

“I was looking for a different concentration of study, and I researched many of the colleges and universities in and around the Chicago area,” Zahariev explained. Zahariev was particularly interested in how fatigue, stress and wear affect machine design.

While he had not heard previously of Purdue Calumet (let alone Hammond, Indiana), Zahariev found the right fit for his interests when he visited the University’s Web site. “I was looking at the Faculty Expertise section of the Web site and saw that Professor (Yulian) Kin was well versed in fatigue failures and fatigue fracture mechanics.”

To learn more about the University’s engineering program, Zahariev contacted Mechanical Engineering Department Head Chenn Qian Zhou. “Dr. Zhou was very responsive and able to answer my questions,” he said. “She represented the university very well.”

He received plenty of PUC assistance

Also helping Zahariev was Marsha Gordon, director of graduate and international students. “Marsha worked closely with me to get all of the foreign student documentation requirements in order, and she was one of the first people I met on campus,” he said. Zahariev enrolled in Purdue Calumet’s master of engineering program in 2003 and graduated in 2005.

Zahariev also shares his expertise teaching a Purdue Calumet engineering class.

“While I was getting my degree, I was involved with hands-on learning almost from day one,” Zahariev said. “I initially worked on a project funded by the steel company that is now ArcelorMittal, and later I worked on one funded by drilling company Boart Longyear.”

“After I graduated, I stayed at Purdue Calumet and worked under Dr. Kin as a research engineer. I started teaching engineering drawing once a week; now, I still teach and also work for the Mission Woods, Kansas-based company Layne Christensen,” Zahariev shared.

Impressed his soon-to-be boss

Zahariev explained that when another of Kin’s former students, Brian Smith (BS ’95), became Vice President of the Drilling Technology Center at Layne Christensen, Smith already was familiar with Zahariev’s work through their earlier cooperation on the Boart Longyear project.

“As well as the educational benefits of the industry-related projects, another significant plus at Purdue Calumet is the students’ exposure to people who make hiring decisions,” Zahariev shared.

Zahariev joined Layne Christensen in 2008 and works as a research engineer in the company’s Drilling Technology Center, which is part of the Water Resources and Mineral Exploration Division. “Our team is responsible for new designs and modernization of existing drilling equipment,” Zahariev said.

Working with its Latin American affiliate, Geotec Boyles Brothers, Layne Christensen supplied a steerable drilling system used to drill some of the holes at the collapsed San Jose Mine near Coipaiom, Chile.

‘I felt good to be a part of something so big’

“I was involved in converting two-dimensional drawings of system components to three-dimensional models, and I also made improvements to the detail drawing,” Zahariev said.  “While I never was at the site, when I heard that Layne Christensen was having a central role in the rescue operation, I felt good to be a part of something so big.

“One of the great things about Purdue Calumet is the experiential learning component. It’s good for the companies the university partners with, as well as for the students,” he said. “I believe applicable research is more relevant and provides more useful experience than only acquiring pure theoretical knowledge.”

Zahariev went on say how pleasantly surprised he was to learn of the campus’ proximity to Chicago. “When I moved here I had no idea where Hammond, Indiana was. But, I’m glad I found out and that I chose to come to Purdue Calumet.”

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