Colleges, Universities in Central New Mexico Are Engines of Success

In 2009, the University of New Mexico’s DataONE Project received a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation for further research and development.

In most places, that would be big news; in Central New Mexico, it’s just the latest in a long and significant string of announcements that showcase the major contributions being made by the region’s colleges and universities.

The DataONE project, a global data access and preservation network, will allow for multiple breakthroughs in environmental research. It’s joined on campus by work being done at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center on new mutant genes, geological studies at the Colorado Plateau on how the region was formed and anthropologist Patricia Crown’s discovery that chocolate was a big thing in the Chaco Canyon — a thousand years ago.

“We have an international reputation in evolution and behavior studies, but we’re also strong in material science and for 25 years have operated our Center for High Technology Materials,” says Michael Dougher, associate vice president for research. “From revolutionizing the semiconductor industry to patents in solar energy, we are working and growing to establish bigger and better ties to the companies in New Mexico.”

The university is putting a lot of its weight behind nanotechnology, including biomedical sciences and engineering in particular. It also continues to back pioneering work in quantum formation theory, with a long-term goal of establishing computers that work on quantum principles, which would result in far greater accuracy.

“Our research office is getting very active in many areas, and we’re always looking at how we can partner better with industries and startup corporations here,” Dougher says. “We want to be able to help attract businesses to New Mexico even as we interact with existing businesses to facilitate what they’re doing. Not only will that help them, but it also will provide areas of research and training for our students.”

Training students as well as the existing workforce is a major impetus for Central New Mexico Community College, which continues to expand its presence in the area through new facilities and programs.

“CNM plays a very important role in the economic development of the Central New Mexico region, especially in terms of providing a highly trained workforce for the established and emerging industries and businesses in the area,” says Katharine Winograd, president. “CNM is highly regarded for its ability to respond quickly to the workforce-training needs of the local economy. It enlists the expertise of advisory boards made up of industry and business representatives who help the college stay up to date with trends and new developments. In addition, CNM’s Workforce Training Center also develops and provides customized training programs that allow companies to improve the skills of their employees.”

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