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NMSU College of Engineering motivates teachers, students at trainings, summer camps

School is out for the summer but both teachers and students are spending time at New Mexico State University and the College of Engineering.

Man, standing, speaks during presentation.
Granville Richardson, a Mayfield High School teacher, discusses a team project during a presentation at a Project Lead the Way Core Training held at New Mexico State University. The Engineering New Mexico Resource Network in the College of Engineering, the state’s Project Lead the Way Affiliate since 2006, hosts middle school and high school teachers in June. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)
Four females, two standing and two sitting, work on a bridge project.
New Mexico State University mechanical engineering students and New Mexico PREP Middle School Academy mentors Megan Trujillo (far left) and Ashley Allred (far right) help Maya Landess from Portales, New Mexico, and Ariel Castillo (standing) from Garfield, New Mexico, work on a bridge project during the two-week summer camp held June 4-15 at NMSU. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

This month, the college is hosting two core training sessions of Project Lead The Way, which is a leading provider in education curricular programs of science, technology, engineering and mathematics utilized nationally in both middle and high schools. Since 2006, the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network in the College of Engineering has served as the New Mexico Project Lead the Way Affiliate.

This year, 39 teachers from across the country have traveled to NMSU for training in Engineering Design and Development, Introduction to Engineering, Automation and Robotics, Design and Modeling and Principles of Engineering. The first two-week session ran from June 5-16, and the second session runs from June 19-30.

“Teachers play an immeasurable role in empowering students to lead their own learning. As the university affiliate we strive to be a trusted partner in this effort,” said Ester Gonzalez, STEM program manager for the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network. “Our goal is to provide teachers with the support and resources they need to devote more time to inspiring students.”

While participants have traveled from both coasts, teachers from Las Cruces are taking advantage of the local resource. Granville Richardson and Monica Baeza, teachers at Mayfield High School and NMSU alumni, are participating in Project Lead the Way Core Training for the third time. This year they are in the Engineering Design and Development course.

Richardson, who teaches introduction to engineering design, principles of engineering and chemistry, said he enjoys the experience Project Lead the Way provides.

“The amount that you have to think outside the box and the amount you have to involve yourself, it’s not like other professional developments where you go and sit and watch a lecture and fall asleep. You’re actually involved in the process,” he said. “It’s stressful at times and at other times it’s really neat and you find yourself thinking of other ideas. You go to bed thinking about it. You wake up having ideas.”

As a math and introduction to engineering design teacher, Baeza said a challenge as an instructor is to help the students understand what they can take away from the classes.

“They can leave with so many skills,” she said. “It’s very valuable to them – the teambuilding, the brainstorming, the researching, how to do word documents, basic PowerPoints and Excel sheets, all things they will need to know when they get to courses like this or to college.”

While teachers are gaining instruction methods, students are on campus with the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network’s PREP Middle and High School Academies. A summer residential camp, PREP gives students the opportunity to explore STEM careers. Students entering sixth through eighth grade spent two weeks, June 4-15, at the PREP Middle School Academy, which offers real-world experiences in engineering innovation through inquiry and hands-on learning.

The PREP High School Academy will be held June 18-30 for ninth- through 12th-grade students. In this camp, students learn about the engineering design process, applied use of engineering software, advanced manufacturing using 3-D printers and the ability to implement their engineering skills with real-world projects.

For more information on Project Lead the Way and NM PREP Academy, visit https://engr.nmsu.edu/enmrn/.