Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tech Graduation Set For Saturday

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Commencement for graduating students at New Mexico Tech is this Saturday, May 15. Those students finishing their degrees include 251 students.
Adding in the numbers from August and December 2009, a total of 363 graduates have completed their degrees in the past year and are eligible to walk in commencement. Of those degrees, Tech is awarding 200 bachelor’s, 140 master’s and 23 doctoral degrees. Registrar Sara Grijalva said she expects about 250 students to participate in commencement.
University President Dan Lopez said the academic year has posed some interesting challenges.
“It was a year full of challenges and also great opportunities,” Lopez said. “We took advantage of the opportunities and worked to meet the challenges.
“We had a slight increase in enrollment this year, and more next year. In light of the rise in tuition and fees, this indicates students are willing to pay a little more for the quality of education,” he said. “Our faculty continues to be writing very competitive proposals, as well.”
He said the school was successful in being able to obtain “a lot of external funding” for both research and academic areas.
“Despite our budget limits this year and last, we’ve been able to maintain high quality education,” Lopez said. “Our students continue to compete vey favorably at top of the heap in national competitions in math and science. That to me suggests that quality is maintained.”
As for off campus research and development, “another exciting project is the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Testing Program that is being undertaken at Playas,” Lopez said. “We have other ongoing projects at Playas, and carried out very large exercises with the U.S. Joint Forces Command.”
Lopez said the projects are valuable for the university on different levels.
“I’m worried that people think it is just a military project,” he said. “But through these operations we can build the infrastructure necessary for academic programs.
“There are a multitude of different activities that are directly connected with academic programs.”
Commencement exercises being at 9 a.m. on the lawn just north of Macey Center.
The community is invited to attend graduation.
he top student award winners will not be determined until Friday, May 14. The top undergraduate awards are the Cramer Awards, given to the top male and top female students academically, the Brown Award, given to the top student in academics, research and extracurriculars.
The top graduate student awards are the Langmuir Award, given to the student who has published the most significant research paper, and the Founder’s Award, given to the student who has excelled academically and contributed to the Tech community.
The top faculty awards have already been determined. Professor Rick Aster is the 2010 winner of the Distinguished Researcher Award. Aster is the chair of the Earth and Environmental Science Department and the principal investigator for the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center. He has distinguished himself in geophysics and Earth science research, outreach and public service efforts.
The Distinguished Teaching Award recipient is Paul Arendt of the Physics Department. Arendt has earned the accolades of students from various departments for his effective and engaging teaching style.

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