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NMSU-A's new technology center offers trade-school training in a community college environment

Date: 12/14/2010

The New Mexico State University Alamogordo campus is excited to offer a new program for students wishing to become certified in vocational training.

NMSU Alamogordo's new Advanced Technology Center, seen here at its Oct. 20 grand opening, features the latest in automotive trade, alternative energy and welding technology. (Photo by Hope Patterson)

In October the campus played hosts to a ribbon-cutting/grand opening ceremony for the new Advanced Technology Center. NMSU President Barbara Couture attended, as did Alamogordo Mayor Ron Griggs, while NMSU-A President Cheri Jimeno opened the ceremonies.

The Advanced Technology Center will house instruction for automotive trades, alternative energies and welding. The facility offers trade-school courses without the trade school.

Students are able to come to the campus to receive special certification for photovoltaic entry-level grid-tie, advanced photovoltaic installation, energy auditing and energy-efficiency weatherization. Students may also receive an associate's degree for applied science in renewable energy technology.

The auditing program teaches the students where most of the energy in the home is lost. The weatherization course will teach how to fix the problems of lost heat. Students also will receive hands-on experience through a mock home, where they will work on installing doors, windows and even rooftop solar panels.

To work in these fields, students must go through a training course and become CPR and first aid certified. This program will allow students to immediately start working or even open their own business upon graduation.

"It's critical for that type of information to get out there, with this community specifically, especially with large increases in energy costs," Bryan Yancey, division head of NMSU-A's Pro Tech division, said.

The center also has features to complement automotive technology studies. The building is large enough to fit 10 cars - two per work slot. While one car is up in the lift being worked on, another car can be behind it also getting worked on.

"They spared no expense on the equipment. They did a really good job," Yancey said.

Class sizes are small, which allows for a more one-on-one teaching method. No more than 20 students will be in each classroom. A computer lab in the center will house 24 brand-new PCs for student use.

In addition to housing top-of-the-line technology to assist teachers, the center also was built with a "green" focus. The auditing and weatherization courses will be taught using green technology, such as solar paneling, and the students learn how to install it. The automotive department has lighting that adjusts to the lighting from outside and the oil that is changed from the cars will be properly recycled.

"We were the only comprehensive community college in the state of New Mexico that didn't have this type of training, so we're ready to go," Jimeno said. "We just want to make sure we have the most current educational opportunities for our students."

Video of the grand opening may be found at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10344980.

Written by Christine Pixley.

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