Good News. Dona Ana Community College (DACC) is embarking on the establishment of an Associate’s Degree in General Engineering. Many of us followed the events over the last two years, particularly related to the Nursing Program and the Presidential search. With all that behind us, the College is now positioning itself to expand its offerings. We hope.
John Walker, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at DACC, has been on the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) Advisory Board for almost 20 years. I have been a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Aerospace Technology Program (AERT) since its inception. We are “boarding” each other, but not too often. With others, we have grown the development of space and aerospace programs at DACC and at NMSU. The AERT now offers a two year program of study under the leadership of Department Head, Tim Briggs. Through NMSGC, we have supported student scholarships, and other programs at the College. Faculty and students development technologies we’ve sent to space. We may developing a program where students can take the first two years of General Engineering classes, complete an Associates Degree, and be capable of going on to a four year program.
Students may soon have the option of taking two paths should they be interested in the Aerospace industry. Why do we need two different options for an industry that is slow to grow in New Mexico? Well, I have a story, more good news. I met a junior from Mayfield High School, named Edward Poole. Ed, is the grandson of the owner of Shook Tire. Eddie was the manager of Shook Tire. He bought the business from Jim Shook when he retired.
Jim Shook, God rest his soul, was a good and loyal customer of mine when I had my advertising agency. Jim was a very smart man and never settled for second best. He was an artist and the advertising campaigns were personally crafted by Jim. When I had to wait for Jim at Shook Tire, I often watched Eddie. He never stood still. He was totally committed to doing the best job he could. Jim could inspire people that way and it seems Eddie passed his good habits on to his grandson, Ed Poole.
Ed heard about building a multi-sensor experiment that would go to space from Spaceport America at school. This was in 2009 when we first started flying. Ed did not want to work with the Mayfield team, he wanted to build the experiment by himself. He kept showing up at my offices after school to work on his experiment. One afternoon after five Ed was still there. I asked him why he wanted to do the entire experiment by himself. When he lifted his curly head of hair, I saw rather than heard the answer. He was happy being in the midst of a challenge. He knew we were learning along with him, and that’s what he needed too, company.
I learned Ed wanted to go to the “Branch” after he graduated from Mayfield. The more I saw the more I became convinced, Ed was university material. But he did not think so. By the end of the two summers he worked for us, Ed was accepted to The University of Oklahoma. He just graduated with a degree in Engineering. In those days, Dona Ana College would not have challenged Ed. Oklahoma was going to be the challenge he needed. As students test the waters of Engineering through the General Engineering program and gain their legs in the field, they may realize they have what it takes.
More good news. Dr. Saundra Castillo, and Division Dean of Technical and Industrial Studies program is leading the charge toward this new General Engineering Associates Degree program. Her cousin, Wayne Hale, former Shuttle Program Manager for NASA was the keynote speaker for our Community Partnership Luncheon. Wayne is a native New Mexican, and an honorable man. I asked Wayne to speak about the impact to our state if we passed the Informed Consent bill. Space is a dangerous business. Wayne’s knowledge about flight safety and his ability to tell us in language we could use was essential for the audience. The bill passed, and it was information that won the day. After Wayne’s talk he introduced me to two members of his family in the audience, one was Saundra. Some things are meant to be, and I believe we are meant to have a growing aerospace community here in Southern New Mexico. Let’s keep moving forward.