Facts At a Glance
New Mexico Tech was founded in 1889 when a group of Socorro landowners donated land to the state to start the New Mexico School of Mines.
The school opened for classes in September 1893 with one building, two professors and seven students. Initial course offerings focused on mining – metallurgy, chemistry and related fields.
Now, New Mexico Tech offers more than 16 bachelor’s degree programs. Over the years, Tech has awarded 6,398 bachelor’s degrees, 2,225 master’s degrees and 322 doctorates.
A Brief History of New Mexico Tech
In 1927, a new division was added to the School of Mines – the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.
During 1930s, petroleum engineering was added to the curriculum and quickly acquired more students than mining engineering. The college's president, Dr. Edgar Wells, obtained federal funds to construct several of the campus' classic mission-style buildings with red tiled roofs date.
The first woman to graduate from the School of Mines was Irene Ryan in 1939.
As enrollment dropped precipitously during World War II, President Dr. Richard H. Reece (1942-46) brought an Army Specialized Training Program at the School of Mines.
In 1946, a dynamic new president, E. J. Workman took over the reins and changed the character of the school. A physicist, Dr. Workman was primarily interested in atmospheric physics, but also worked on weapons development. The school’s traditional emphasis on engineering gave way to a greater focus on physics and mathematics.
Workman started two of New Mexico Tech’s most important research divisions – the Terminal Effects Research and Analysis group and the Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research.
TERA later became the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, which is now Tech’s largest research division with more than 200 employees and an annual budget of more than $50 million.
In 1951, the university officially changed its name to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. In 1953, the golf course opened.
A hydrology program was founded in the mid-1950s, which grew to be one of the foremost in the world. Workman added a graduate program, which produced Tech's first Ph.D. in 1956.
A computer science department was founded circa 1965, one of the first in the country. The Tech Computer Center was started at about this time.
In the 1970s, astrophysics joined atmospheric physics as a major interest, especially after the National Radio Astronomy Observatory built the Very Large Array.
In 1977, Tech added another research division, the Petroleum Recovery Research Center
Macey Center, a theater and conference center, opened in 1982, named after Bill and Jean Macey. Bill Macey was a Tech graduate and is still among Tech’s most significant benefactors.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, campus enrollment grew to about 1,500. During this era, new majors were added including electrical engineering, business administration and environmental engineering. Enrollment reached 1,700 in 1993.
An active building program during the presidency of Dr. Lawrence Lattman (1983-93) years added several buildings to campus, most importantly, MSEC (the Mineral Science and Engineering Complex) and the new Library.
Dr. Daniel H. Lopez took over as President in 1994.
IRIS-PASSCAL opened in 1998 when New Mexico Tech outbid Stanford and Columbia to house the National Science Foundation’s seismology center.
Prince William attended the ground-breaking of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in 2002. New Mexico Tech and Cambridge formed a partnership to build a world-class observatory. The facility’s 2.4-meter telescope officially opened in 2008.
The Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA) opened in the late 1990s to study, research and combat cyber-terrorism and computer-based crime.
The National Cave and Karst Research Institute was launched in the early 2000’s. The facility broke ground on a new building in late 2008.
The Mechanical Engineering Department was added in 2002 and is now the largest program at the university.