Regents Enjoy Educational Retreat In Socorro

SOCORRO, N.M. August 24, 2010 – The New Mexico Tech Board of Regents enjoyed an informative and educational two-day retreat in Socorro in early August, foregoing the planned trip to Chama.


New Mexico Tech's board of regents got a first-hand view of 'M' Mountain  during the annual retreat in Socorro.



Mechanical engineering students showed the board the results of their hard work.



Dr. Snezna Rogelj (left) gave Tech regents and administrators a tour of the biology department's labs.


“The traditional purpose of a retreat is to get everyone away from the daily grind of the university so we can have a refreshing dialog and discuss planning,” Regent Jerry Armijo said. “The big issue this year is that we’ve asked everyone, particularly faculty, to cut costs. We’ve asked faculty to work harder without raises and they have marched without complaint. We couldn’t in good conscious justify any out-of-town expense for a retreat.”

The Regents also wanted to familiarize themselves with academic and research projects on campus. The retreat kicked off with the regular August meeting of the board on Thursday afternoon.

The board members were treated to a tour of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory and Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research on Thursday evening and a series of demonstrations and tours all day Friday and Saturday morning.

Armijo, a native of Socorro, said the experience was enjoyable because the board members interacted with faculty and students.

“Quite frankly, I learned a lot,” he said. “With the faculty, they all have a story to tell us about their research projects. Not only did I learn a lot about the specifics about their research, but we walked away impressed with their enthusiasm.”

Dr. Van Romero, vice president of research and a Tech graduate in physics, lead the tour of the observatory’s interferometer. Dr. Eileen Ryan, director of the observatory’s 2.4-meter telescope, led a tour and demonstration of the single telescope.

Friday on campus, master’s student Alisa Shtromberg and doctoral student Tyler McCracken presented their work that is helping develop the new interferometer.

On Friday morning, the Regents were treated to demonstrations by two mechanical engineering student teams. The mini-baja team showed off their off-road vehicle and explained their research and engineering project. The SAE Aero team, which designs and builds a remote-controlled airplane each year, also presented their project.

“As Regents, we don’t have that many opportunities to get to know students on a personal level,” Armijo said. “We got to visit with them personally. We certainly respect the amount of hard work they put into these activities. More than anything, what impressed me was how much fun they have interacting with each other. That’s why they come here – they get to do these unique projects and they get to learn at the same time.”

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said the student presentations demonstrated how Techies learn not only practical engineering and theory, but also professional skills.

“Engineers are not only responsible for design and manufacture, but also teamwork and budgeting,” he said. “These presentations give Regents the student flavor about their world of work.”

Other presentations included the Distance Education program, the biochemistry program by Dr. Snezna Rogelj and the computer science department.

Dr. Rogelj led the Regents on a tour of the biology laboratories and offices. She discussed the biology department’s antibiotic and cancer drug discovery efforts and student successes in research, internships, medical school and veterinary school.

“I took the opportunity to point out that our exciting research progress is not only dependent on clever ideas by the faculty, but that it is the entire support network of students, researchers and staff,” she said. “Everyone on the team makes critical contributions in making our department a successful and happy family.”

Computer Science and Engineering Department chair Dr. Lorie Liebrock 

Rob Hepler of the Distance Ed program and George Becker of the Master’s of Science Teaching program talked to the Regents about Tech’s technical capabilities.

Hepler said Tech offers about 70 hours of live class time each week, plus more pre-recorded classes. The campus includes four studios, with a fifth coming on line this fall, plus two more interactive studios in Albuquerque.

The Regents also enjoyed a Saturday breakfast near the top of ‘M’ Mountain. During that excursion, Bureau of Geology senior engineer and local historian Bob Eveleth presented his research about the legacy of the ‘M’ atop the mountain.

“Bob Eveleth gave a presentation about his research into the ‘M’ and its rich and colorful history,” Armijo said. “I’ve lived here most of my life and I didn’t know 10 percent of the history. We trekked up there and had a bird’s eye view and that was great. I hope more local people can have that experience because it’s quite unique.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech