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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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PNM Resources VP addresses NMSU power engineering students

Aubrey Johnson, vice president of PNM Resources New Mexico Operations, presented a seminar on the electric utility industry to engineering and business students on Feb. 7 in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The College of Engineering is exposing students to industry leaders as an enhancement to the Electric Utility Management Program. Johnson also met with faculty members in the program to discuss ongoing research and possible areas for collaboration.

This is a photo of Aubrey Johnson.
Aubrey Johnson, PNM Resources vice president of New Mexico Operations shared insights with NMSU College of Engineering Electric Utility Management Program students and faculty. (NMSU photo by Linda Fresques)

PNM Resources recently partnered with the College of Engineering to create a series of "Lunch and Learn" sessions for students in six Albuquerque high schools this spring. NMSU engineering faculty and alumni plan to engage students in hands-on activities to illustrate the work of engineers.

Johnson oversees the transmission policy and development, distribution strategies, technical services and systems reliability, system reliability management and PNM business operations. PNM Resources is an energy holding company based in Albuquerque. Through its two utility subsidiaries, the company supplies electricity to more than 730,000 homes and businesses in New Mexico and Texas.

"Learning doesn't stop when you leave campus," said Johnson. "We are trained to get to a specific answer. Once you go out into the work world there are far more variables that exist in a classroom, so I think that you always need to be in a continual learning environment and you need to be flexible. There is not really a set pattern or routine that you can follow to success."

EUMP is a unique graduate program through which students acquire both engineering skills as well as an understanding of the regulatory economics, management and societal aspects of the electric power systems. Courses from the College of Engineering and the College of Business Center for Public Utilities comprise the program. NMSU has offered this program, the only one of its kind in the nation, since 1968.

"The power industry is unique in that it is both federally- and state-regulated," said Satish Ranade, electrical and computer engineering department head and director of EUMP. "People in this industry have to understand the economics and management for the commissions that establish rates and direct these public utilities."

Johnson has previous experience with GE Energy Services and Southern Company. He has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee University.

"Looking around the classrooms and the labs, there is obviously a lot that has changed since I've been on a college campus, but I think being able to see and work with real-world equipment takes students out of the shock variable when they go into the work space environment. A lot of success is related to your ability to transition from being a student to an employee and a lot of that has to do with your comfort in that setting," said Johnson.

"These are challenging times and this model is changing the way we think about power generation. EUMP is the anchor to a broader benefit, through research, workforce development, continuing education and outreach," said Ranade. "Consumers and the industry benefit from the expertise generated by the program."