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ENMU-R seeks funding for new automotive program

A new ENMU-R automotive program would train students to work on hybrid, electrical, diesel and gasoline engines. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Five requests total $788,000

A new type of automotive maintenance and technology program is planned at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, and its board has approved asking the state for funding to help start it.

The automotive hybrid program — which will build on existing programs and will train students to repair and maintain hybrid, electrical, diesel and gasoline vehicles — is the only new program among the five research and public service projects (RPSP) that the university wants funding for during the 2020-21 academic year.

“Working on these types of vehicles can be dangerous,” said Eric Gomez, instructor of automotive technology programs. “Students could get injured or even killed. The simulators will allow them to train safely.”

He explained that students are now taught safe methods and given proper safety gear, which they will continue to wear even when working on simulators.

ENMU-R is asking for $240,000 for the program.

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The school’s requests are due to the New Mexico Higher Education Department by about Sept. 16, President Shawn Powell said, and according to ENMU-R staff, also are intended to be presented to the ENMU Board of Regents later in September.

If approved by both of those groups, the requests would be considered by the New Mexico Legislature during its 2020 session.

In total, with all five projects, the college is asking for $788,000.

The other funding requests are $272,900 to hire additional instructors for its nursing program, $200,000 for staff positions and programming for its special services program for students with disabilities, and $75,100 for one instructor for its aviation maintenance technology program.

Board member Eloise Blake asked several questions related to the funding requests, saying that she was not comfortable with asking for one-time funding for new programs that rely on that money for continuous operation.

“(It) would be a new program that we are adding,” said Powell. “This would be a one-time request for that equipment. There would not be ongoing costs associated with the RPSP request at this time. It would be a one-time request. … Of course, there would be upgrades (to the simulators) in the future, but there is not an ongoing annual cost that would be associated with the automotive program.”

Any additional instructional costs are expected to be funded by tuition or other sources, he and Blake added.

Powell explained that the projects — especially the nursing program request — are meant to provide training for career areas in high demand in the state.

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