Tech And Amarillo Sharing $3.2 Million Federal Grant

By Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M., Oct. 15, 2008 – New Mexico Tech has partner institutions around the globe and is now forming an important new alliance with a junior college in north Texas.

Amarillo College and Tech recently received a two-year, $3.2 million grant for campus equipment and improvements from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title V program, according to Dr. Ricardo Maestas, Vice President of Student and University Relations.

“This new project is an exciting new partnership for New Mexico Tech,” President Dr. Daniel H. López said. “Forming alliances with a strong academic junior college will help build lasting relationships and help bring bright transfer students into our already strong programs.”

With the grant, Tech will purchase equipment for five academic programs, install wireless Internet service in academic buildings and establish a transfer program with Amarillo College, Maestas said.

“The over-arching goal is to give New Mexico Tech a transfer program from an established two-year college, with the intent of attracting more Hispanic transfer students,” Maestas said.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act Grant is designed to couple a junior college with a four-year college. Tech had tried several times to apply for the grant with Luna Community College in Las Vegas. This year, Tech found success in a partnership with Amarillo College.

Dr. Deidre Hirschfeld, materials engineering professor, will coordinate the academic effort. She said the new collaboration will include shared academic resources, joint-taught classes and faculty visits.

“This should turn out to be a good pipeline of students for New Mexico Tech,” Hirschfeld said. “Many Amarillo College graduates go on to universities in Texas, which are typically much larger than Tech. This gives them a connection with a smaller, more personal school.”

The grant aims to encourage Hispanic students to continue their studies after finishing a two-year degree, particularly in the areas of science, engineering and math. Maestas said the Title V program aims to increase college opportunities for low-income, first-generation minorities.

Amarillo College has a strong pre-engineering program, which makes them an especially good fit for a partnership with Tech, Maestas said. Amarillo College is also a strong, Hispanic-serving institution.

“This is a great opportunity for New Mexico Tech,” Maestas said. “We have set a goal to increase minority enrollment. Here, we are partnering with a quality institution.”

Hirschfeld said Amarillo College has a rigorous curriculum for students interested in pursuing engineering degrees.

“Their students who succeed in their math and chemistry curriculum will have no problem at New Mexico Tech,” she said.

Amarillo has enrollment of more than 10,000 degree-track students and 38,000 continuing education students. New Mexico Tech has about 1,900 students. Using grant funding, Tech will create a transition center and a transition coordinator to assist Amarillo College students move seamlessly into the Tech campus setting.

The new partnership is focused on five departments: Mineral Engineering, Physics, Petroleum Engineering, Materials Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

– NMT –