Collaboration between UNM-LA and LANL leads to creation of Bachelor of Science program in Mechanical Engineering

From left to right, UNM Director James Holloway, LANL Director Thom Mason, UNM-LA Dean of Training Paul Allen, UNM President Garnett Stokes and UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney celebrate Monday afternoon the news of UNM-LA offering a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering program. The program is a collaboration between UNM-LA and LANL. Photo by John McHale /

From left to right, Los Alamos County Council Chairman Randall Ryti, Dist. 43 Representative Christine Chandler and LANL Director Thom Mason speak before the event begins on Monday. Photo by John McHale /

From left to right, UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney, UNM President Terry Babbitt’s Chief of Staff and UNM President Garnett Stokes speak before the event begins. Photo by John McHale /

Los Alamos Daily Post
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  • “It’s a collaboration that can really change the world. – UNM President Garnett Stokes

It took a while, but the wait was worth it. On Monday, the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) campus as well as representatives from the University of New Mexico and the Los Alamos National Laboratory shared good news: UNM-LA offers a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

The extension of the existing two-year pre-engineering program was made possible through a collaboration between UNM-LA and LANL.

To celebrate this achievement, UNM-LA hosted an event Monday afternoon on its campus. Various officials including LANL Director Thom Mason, UNM President Garnett Stokes, UNM Provost James Holloway and Higher Education Cabinet Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez were among the attendees. In addition to the speeches, visits have been organized to the various lab rooms that the students of the study program will use.

UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney said the accomplishment was long overdue. In fact, she said she found in her office a feasibility study on offering a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering that dated back to 2015.

“When we said these things take a long time, they do it because you need the right players and the right environment and I think we have all of these things together,” Rooney said.

She explained that she had met a lot of major engineers at UNM-LA who would find jobs at the lab and plan to complete their degrees at UNM in Albuquerque. However, during their work, they did not want to travel to Albuquerque.

“So it became a personal mission for me – how do we help these people,” Rooney said.

The collaboration with LANL allows UNM-LA to help its mechanical engineering students, she said. Students can take the first two years of the program at UNM-LA and complete their studies at the UNM-LA campus through UNM’s nationally accredited college of engineering.

To assess the success of this project, a pilot program was launched last year. According to an UNM-LA press release, 40 LANL employees were enrolled in the mechanical engineering program. Of those 40 people, 15 were in the pre-engineering program at UNM-LA and 25 in the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering program and were taking graduate division courses.

It was emphasized throughout the event on Monday that teamwork was the key to the success of this program.

“… It’s such a team effort,” Stokes said. “This is a collective and community effort. And this is a perfect example of the kind of initiatives that we are taking in our offshore campuses and where we can really reap the benefits… in the communities where our offshore campuses are located. It’s something to celebrate.

Dist. Representative Christine Chandler told the Los Alamos Daily Post that she also sees the BSc as the product of great teamwork between UNM-LA and the lab.

“I think it’s a long time to come and a commitment from UNM to support the lab and a commitment from the lab to support UNM-LA,” she said. “This will be a great program for laboratory workers to achieve their professional goals.”

Los Alamos County Council Chairman Randall Ryti told the Daily Post: “This is just a great opportunity for the employees and for potential future employees of LANL. We (at the county) are looking for opportunities to support education and we are happy to see this collaboration continue between LANL and UNM-LA. It really is a great effort.

Throughout the event, it was emphasized that all participants – LANL and UNM-LA – will mutually benefit from this program.

“Our lab has worked especially hard over the past two years to build stronger links with regional education departments… We are doing this for a number of reasons,” Mason said. “The main driver is that we need the people with the skills who are going to come out of this program. We are growing up, we have a lot to do on behalf of the nation, on behalf of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and we will only get there if we can recruit people who have these skills. “

Stokes stressed that this is a symbiotic relationship – students have access to a local employer and the potential to start their careers and the lab can hire employees with the skills to carry out its mission, which has an impact. far beyond Los Alamos.

“It’s a collaboration that can really change the world,” Stokes said.

It can also have a positive impact on the lives of students, Rodriguez said.

“For many New Mexicans, college serves as a gateway to greater opportunities… often we start this journey at community college,” Rodriguez said. “What I love about this opportunity is that these students can go to their local community college, that they can stay in their community and have that impact instead of leaving it and their families… with that connection. from our two-year programs to our four-year programs, we let these students make the decision to stay home with their family and then have a family career after their degree program and that’s what makes this program so unique and so rewarding for New Mexico and New Mexicans right now.

UNM-LA student and LANL employee Mario Medina, who is currently enrolled in the pilot program, attested to the benefits it offers to students.

“One of the things that caught my attention was how accessible it was,” he said, adding that UNM-LA is very welcoming and the lab is very supportive.

Interested students can apply now at To learn more about the program, contact Dr Irina Alvestad, UNM-LA Associate Dean of Education and Chair of the Mathematics and Engineering Division at [email protected]

New Mexico Department of Higher Education Cabinet Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez speaks at the event on Monday. Photo by John McHale /

Left to right UNM-LA Dean of Instruction Paul Allen, Dr. Mario Velardi and UNM Provost James Holloway speak prior to the start of the event. Photo by John McHale /

From left to right, LANL Director Thom Mason, Board Chairman Randall Ryti and Dist. 43 Rep. Christine Chandler at the event Monday. Photo by John McHale /

From left to right, UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney, UNM President Garnett Stokes and UNM President’s Chief of Staff Terry Babbitt at the event. Photo by John McHale /

Scene from the UNM-LA special event on Monday. Photo by John McHale /

UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney. Photo by John McHale /

MNU President Garnett Stokes. Photo by John McHale /

UNM Marshal James Holloway. Photo by John McHale /

LANL Director Thom Mason. Photo by John McHale /

UNM-LA student Mario Medina talks about his experience in the pilot program of the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Photo by John McHale /

Event scene. Photo by John McHale /

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