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Engineering Technology course blends creative, technical skills at NMSU

In a manufacturing laboratory in Engineering Complex I at New Mexico State University, 13 undergraduate College of Engineering students spent the fall semester preparing for the manufacturing workforce through a newly revamped course.


Man holds a clock in a workshop.
Sam Gifford, mechanical engineering technology junior at New Mexico State University, displays a clock he designed and created in a new engineering technology course during the fall 2016 semester. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

The class, Engineering Technology 482, helped students gain more design and hands-on manufacturing experience using computerized equipment through computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. The Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center laboratory received equipment upgrades prior to this course through an engineering fee.

In my opinion, this is going to impact their job opportunities, because they are growing in this course with significant, hands-on experience using high-tech equipment and writing programs and learning multiple software programs, said Charlie Park, M-TEC lab instruction manager. They are going to be able to get out in the job market and actually produce products from the get go.

Not only is this course intended to help students become more marketable, it also teaches both technical and creative skills.

Our intent was to push our students to involve more computers, more automated manufacturing and other software packages to become more versed in computer aided manufacturing. This course is part of our manufacturing minor to help our students gain knowledge and experience with manufacturing, said Anthony Hyde, M-TEC director and engineering technology distinguished professor and course instructor.

Students were required to design and create five projects during the semester: a bottle opener, 2-D key chain, 3-D key chain, clock and license plate. The process included designing projects in Aspire, creating a tool path for the computer numerical control machining centers, setting up the job and cutting the design.

The biggest challenge is learning the code. That has been their biggest challenge and learning the different machines, Park said.

I think its one of the best classes we can offer students for hands-on experience, said Matt Dorsey, senior and M-TEC teaching assistant. Its a lot different designing something in your head and thinking its going to work, usually about the third or fourth try works. I think having this experience of having hands-on time with the machines; actually building your own design that you can come up with, in a reasonable time frame, is pretty cool.

I think its the best blend of creativeness and actual practical know-how, Dorsey said.