SOCORRO, N.M., January 11, 2002 -- Van D. Romero, vice president for research and economic development at New Mexico Tech, recently was appointed national chairman of the the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC), a partnership of public and private organizations committed to serving emergency first-responders by training them to respond efficiently and safely to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

Prior to becoming Tech vice president for research in 1997, Romero, a New Mexico Tech alumnus, served as director of Tech's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, the university's research division that is most involved with NDPC programs.

Through its First Responders Training Program, New Mexico Tech currently teaches first responders, such as fire fighters and law enforcement personnel, how to effectively handle and investigate emergency situations involving explosions or potential acts of terrorism, including biological, chemical, and nuclear threats.

In addition to New Mexico Tech, NDPC members include the Center for Domestic Preparedness at Ft. McClellan, Alabama; the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center at Texas A&M University; and the National Exercise, Testing, and Training Center at Nevada Test Site.