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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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M-TEC students aid in NM industry development

Since 2000, New Mexico State University's College of Engineering has been providing students the unique opportunity to earn real-world work experience through its Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center program. From chile de-stemmers to shelving units, M-TEC students have worked on a variety of projects to benefit companies and industries throughout the state.

"Under the umbrella of our Engineering New Mexico Resource Network, M-TEC is an example of the College's commitment to advancing economic development statewide," said Patricia Sullivan, assistant dean of the College of Engineering.

In addition to the work skills that students learn in M-TEC, the program also assists local businesses and entrepreneurs trying to develop prototypes, refine proof of concept and design unique specialty products.

"Students who work for us leave here with so much experience," said Anthony Hyde, M-TEC director and NMSU engineering technology professor. "Their job opportunities are greatly expanded. Some companies specifically look for students who've had work experience through M-TEC."

Over the past 12 years, M-TEC has assisted on approximately 200 projects, Hyde estimated.

While M-TEC often offers agricultural engineering support (previous projects include work on a chile thinning machine and a chile de-stemmer), students get exposed to projects that benefit industries across the state.

M-TEC staff recently helped NMSU students from a manufacturing and design class create a customized shelving system for an Alamogordo pottery studio. Student employee Jacob Torres described the project as one of the most challenging he's seen. In addition to meeting safety requirements, developers also had to keep in mind the design preference that the company wanted.

"We have every tool you can think of," said Torres. "If they can dream it, we can build it."

M-TEC also assisted in the production of an automated onion bagger for Produce Bagger, Inc., a company that specializes in bagger units sold across the country.

Working at M-TEC also helps students develop their portfolios with projects on which they have assisted.

"This is a dream job if you're an engineer," said Torres, mechanical engineering technology major. "Not only am I learning all the engineering techniques, but I'm also getting to build [the models].

"Mechanical engineers are theoretical - mostly 'idea guys'. We rarely get the chance to build the ideas we come up with. At M-TEC, I get to design it, build a 3-D model (on SolidWorks), test it and then actually go down to the shop and build it."

Students employed through M-TEC receive specialized training through a class taught by Hyde. Over the years, M-TEC has employed as many as twenty students, with four students including Torres working this summer on a variety of engineering projects.

M-TEC has received numerous awards in recent years, including the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program's Award of Excellence in 2006 and 2007.