Timothy Barnes

by Valerie Kimble

Right: Timothy Barnes, Engineering Student of 2008

SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 19, 2008 -- Timothy Barnes, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering major, has been named as New Mexico Tech’s Engineering Student of the Year for 2008 at the state-supported science and engineering research university.

Barnes was chosen by a vote of the university’s licensed engineering faculty from a slate of nine nominees, all of whom came highly recommended, including runners-up Kimberly Coleman, civil engineering; Katharine Dahm, environmental engineering; Joseph Fernandez, electrical engineering; and Cody McFarland, mechanical engineering.

The students will be recognized at a luncheon sponsored by the New Mexico Society for Professional Engineers on Wednesday, February 20, at the Marriott Pyramid in Albuquerque.

Joining them will be Dr. Peter F. Gerity, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Osman Inal, Engineering Dean; and Dr. Sayavur Bakhtiyarov, Mechanical Engineering chair.

Engineering Runners-Up

Left: Engineering runners-up: Kimberly Coleman, Joseph Fernandez, Katharine Dahm and Cody McFarland.

According to Gerity, "Once again, we have the opportunity to recognize and honor an outstanding group of students who have demonstrated exceptional academic achievements during their careers. We have many students deserving of this recognition; but, unfortunately, we must select only very top candidates annually. It is a true challenge for our faculty each year to do this."

Barnes, who was accepted at a number of schools before deciding to come to Tech, said he chose the university “for its rigorous engineering program at a price I could afford.”

He also liked that the Ph.D.-offering institution was situated in a small-town setting, unlike other major universities that are “buried in the city,” he said.

Barnes chose New Mexico Tech because of opportunities for research at the undergraduate level, and so it turned out for him.

Barnes was part of the New Mexico Tech Reduced-Cost Heliostat Design team, which received a $10,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2006. The project's objective is the development of heliostat array technology to the point of economic viability (see www.nmt.edu/~helio for details). The team intends to reapply for EPA funds next year, as well as seeking out private funding once patent-pending status is acquired for their design. In the meantime, the project has been funded by the generous contribution of Dr. Don Weinkauf, chair of the Chemical Engineering Department.

Barnes is a member of the New Mexico Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering society, and is involved with the inter-varsity Christian Fellowship on campus.

Currently, Barnes is maintaining a 3.99 GPA, and will graduate this May, four years after matriculating as a freshman and with all A’s, and an A-minus in a thermodynamics class.

He said his post-graduation plans are a toss-up between graduate school and finding a job.

When asked how he spends his spare time, Barnes laughed and said, “Spare time? What’s that?”

“As I’m fond of saying,” he continued, “Academic excellence is 10 percent intelligence, 20 percent diligence, and 70 percent providence.”

Barnes spent most of his life in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he was home-schooled. His father, Charles, is a chemical engineer with the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, and his mother, Rachel, is a homemaker.

Timothy spent two summers at the Idaho National Laboratory as a participant in its Undergraduate Research Fellowship program.

-- NMT --