Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Engineering initiative with the aim of developing professional learners

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering has launched a pilot program to help students prepare for entry into the job market with professional skills and experience. The Engineering Education Enrichment, e3 initiative, is a co-curricular program funded by the National Science Foundation.

The $ 2.1 million grant to the College of Engineering is aimed directly at helping low-income first-generation students succeed in engineering. Led by Antonio “Tony” Garcia, Assistant Dean of Studies, and Patricia Sullivan, Assistant Dean of Public Relations and Recruiting at the College of Engineering, the five-year program functions as a partnership between students, faculty and industry. It combines teaching techniques specifically geared towards adult self-directed learning with traditional college teaching methods.

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In the second year of the fall semester, around 157 students decided to take part in the e3 initiative, said Sara Patricolo, e3 program manager.

“By and large, the e3 initiative is all about opportunities and students who take their training into their own hands. We want students to recognize the opportunity and choose to participate in this voluntary, fully supported initiative that highlights the importance of lifelong learning, ”said Patricolo.

“E3 is an innovative program unique to NMSU and designed purposely to add in-demand skills in a variety of emerging areas to our engineering curriculum,” said Sullivan. “The program is further enhanced by the commitment of our industrial partners to ensure adaptation to the needs of employers, resulting in highly skilled engineering graduates ready for careers.”

Students have the opportunity to pursue three different tracks to build their professional skills.

An important way to demonstrate skills to a potential employer is through professional certification.

“The certification path provides students with an opportunity to acquire technical or life skills that they believe will make them more marketable for employers and more confident as developing professionals. Students choose from more than 75 certification options and have the flexibility to suggest courses that suit their specific interests. So far, vendors like Coursera, Harvard Business School, Python Institute, Udemy and other students have given them access to certifications in programming, modeling software, project management, leadership and more, ”said Patricolo. “And everything is free for students.”

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The Entrepreneurship Track helps students learn how to acquire knowledge and skills in a career area that could lead to innovative products and / or their own businesses.

“Students learn how to take ideas from proposal to product by building skills in business planning and strategy, operations, and finance. Such training is offered by several of our providers as well as NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, ”said Patricolo.

Students on this track can participate in the Crimson Entrepreneurs Program at the NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, sponsored by Studio G-NMSU’s Student Business Accelerator. Studio G is ranked one of the Top 20 University Business Incubators in the world by UBI Global.

“The design track sets the students’ creativity in motion and challenges students to develop design solutions for real challenges. These are practical projects in which the students develop, for example, food trucks with a low carbon footprint or remote detection of blood pressure. Students develop schedules for design, use modeling software, budget for materials, and work individually or in groups, ”said Patricolo.

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Hands-on design projects enable engineering students to apply technical knowledge and creativity. The College of Engineering’s Aggie Innovation Space, recently outfitted with more than $ 1 million in design and manufacturing equipment, offers students the opportunity to work with seasoned mentors and utilize cutting edge technology.

On the way there, the students are looked after by industrial partners and faculty members.

“Administrators and mentors use a collaborative software platform to interact with the students and document their progress. We set milestones for the students so that they know what to expect, ”said Patricolo. “It’s not tied to the academic semester. It’s at our own pace and we check in with you. “

A research team from the College of Arts and Sciences is studying the e3 initiative and how it is helping students develop adult learning skills. Students are interviewed at the beginning and end of the program to determine if the resources are student engaging and complement the traditional lecture model in the classroom.

In the end, the result of this self-directed program lies with the students.

“The chance is there. Just as engineers have to continue their education and training, the e3 initiative gives engineering students the opportunity to identify possible “knowledge gaps” and complete the course or training they need to better equip themselves for later employment. You just have to choose it, ”said Patricolo. “The best thing about the initiative is that the students come home with a strong sense of personal achievement and more self-confidence. Your success is our success and we celebrate with you. “

To learn more about the e3 initiative, visit https://engr-outreach.nmsu.edu/e3Initiative.

“EYE ON RESEARCH” is provided by New Mexico State University. This week’s feature was written by Linda Fresques of the College of Engineering. She can be reached at 575-646-7416 or [email protected]

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