NM Tech Chemical Engineering

Industrial Advisory Board Meeting        1/26/07

New Mexico Tech

Socorro, New Mexico



Don Weinkauf                  Department Chair

Scott Zeeman         Assoc. VP of Academic Affairs

Raj Sharma            NM Tech, professor of chemical engineering

Kevin Honnell          Los Alamos National Labs

Jay R. Carnes          Los Alamos National Labs

Glenn W. Kuswa      Sandia National Labs

Don Hooper            Intel

Lincoln D. Busselle   Intel

Dave Boneau          Yates Petroleum




10:30: Introductions (MSEC 202)

10:40: Comments from the Assoc. VP of Academic Affairs (Scott Zeeman)

11:00: State of the ChE Department: Statistics, Needs, and News

12:00: Lunch w/ Faculty, Students. (MSEC 367)

12:45: Student Session (MSEC 202)

1:45: Faculty Discussion - New Faculty Input

2:45: Wrap-Up: Recs, Actions, and Ownership

3:30: Adjourn



State of the Department:


The state of the department presentation with goals, assessment data is posted on the NMT Chemical Engineering website at the following link.


Link to State of the Department Presentation for Fall 2006 (4.5 MB pdf file)



Student session:


The board spent an hour with 7 students from the Chemical Engineering department; spanning sophomore to senior years. The students were encouraged to comment on perceptions of the department, and the curriculum.   Here is a summary of the various topics covered during our discussion:


Internships – career services placement is not perceived as pushing internships.

It was suggested that the board encourage :

o      Set up of an alumni network for focused intern opportunities.

o      Explore how to get large employers to come to tech?

o      Propose joint interview fairs in Albuquerque at UNM



Four of seven chemical engineering students are on lottery scholarships; touted as an educational enabler for them.


AiCHe – wasn’t very active the past few years, new web page just went up, moving the classes to adjacent space is helping to tie together the students


o      Rube Goldberg machine. Chemcar-Tucson competition.

o      Freshman class development- what chemical engineering is…

o      Really good momentum of the program, great attendance.



Student commentary on class/curriculum content and requirements:


o      Coordination of math classes are not tied well to engineering classes- try to offer math for engineers demonstrating usage and applications, close couple class schedules

o      Desire partial diff E Q to augment the ordinary diff EQ class. More applicable to chemical engineering

o      Optional freshman seminar class - on study habits,

o      The students expressed that best/worst depended upon teacher, and student desire for learning the material

o      Best teaching

o      Heat of mass transfer was most inspiring. Due to both professor and subject matter.

o      Thermo… chemical engineering best

o      Worst teaching

o      Heat of mass teacher

o      Thermo… theoretical/mechanical integrated

o      Electrical eng for non majors.. Hard to bridge

o      ES110 - waste of time, easy class, have to take it, drafting good, cad-key awful relative to auto-cad, patent law aspect was good. Insert structured problem solving into this class…


o      What about interaction with bio? Any interest?

o      Chemical engineering students are not required to take bio, but not prevented from if they want to.


o      Average sense is 4-6 years to graduate. Feel that tighter entrance requirements would facilitate movement to 4 yrs. Math 103/104 attendance for catch-up on math skills. Trig/algebra


o      FE exam - expressed lack of ethics, unrealistic to make every student take it, need to explain the need to have the FE to take the professional engineer exam, stress the value of the PE cert.

o      The students feel the curriculum generates very well rounded graduates from a discipline perspective.


Holes in the curriculum:

o      Kinetics lab vs. separations lab

o      Ethics class/business practices

o      Patent law


Brutally honest/constructive criticism:

Mandatory internships required for undergrads / Absurd to require internships…

Chemical engineering graduate program starting up at tech

Intro to chemical engineering class should be earlier, include undecided majors

Start on resumes earlier than tech writing in sophomore year

Business law (tort/IP classes) replace one with general ethics us law class

Senior seminar with Dr Bretz comers IP and entrepreneurship

ES405 lab was a complete waste of time ( don’t understand labs, unit ops, no real hands on, instrumentation)>> need to touch things, handle things

Same teacher for kinetics & separations, very wearing on the students



How accessible are professors?

o      Weinkauf being gone on sabbatical was a big gap

o      Other profs are accessible and willing to meet with students

o      Students think influx of new faculty will boost the schools research potential.

o      Diversity split is pretty equal within the department.



Lab space :

o      transportation to the unit ops lab is a hassle.  Junior design lab is crowded, nice to have a little more room. 

o      Lab safety practices ? Not stressed as much as it should be. Materials down the sink.


Summer class :

o      NM Tech should consider a 6 week summer unit ops class (Iowa, Wisconsin, Co school of mines), desire for more classes offered but not mandatory for summer. Help to relieve the pressure of the heavy course load


Future plans :

o      Grad school: 3  of  7

o      Industry: 4 of 7



Post-action/Faculty Discussion:


Discussed the importance of the FE test results. Need to stress to the students that the scores are used to set the tone of the department curriculum, and need to explain that statistically those who take the exam do better in industry or grad school.


Specify the bio side courses in the auto-advisor section of the Chemical engineering web page.


How can we leverage the seniors or graduates to facilitate the advancement of the chemical engineering department. Include them into the advisory chain, and use them to offset Don Weinkauf’s enthusiasm.


Force a mission of self discovery of chemical engineering on the students. Off-line reading, self-study, or schedule 3-4 tech seminars a year.


Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers - SHP conference is a prime venue to leverage intern insertion into corporations.


Bring in topical speakers for the AICHe.. Eg for resume writing, web pages, resume books. Leverage alumni testimonials - what do you do.


Elaborate on how the board can help to reach out to the alumni. The program is 10 yrs old. Need to broaden the involvement of the board in the student/faculty group. For the broader health of the department it would be good to get them involved in the health of the department, by increasing the exposure to the board., The board has a critical mass at the present time and expansion is not warranted. However the students, have a desire to increase the scope.

Bring others in from the chemical engineering industry to sit with the board ( General  Mills, Tempurpedic, Advent, Cabot Micropowders, Emcore, …)


The board is a conduit for exposure to the other tech industries in NM.

Think about how / what this board does !

1) student exposure,

2) bounce ideas off board


4) What about the board going to the schools and recruiting?



Set up an informal network//database of alumni that would be used to solicit feedback and support. AR Weinkauf - alumni survey


What if we set a funding goal and used the department specific account to act as the repository of funds?

o      We need to set up a series of needs, targeted so that an endowment fund is created.

o      Set aside a fraction (half?) for the endowment fund and the other half for immediate needs.

o      AICHe to set up a newsletter for departmental activities. Use it as a tool for fundraising, and intern/hiring placement. Brag about the current students too.


Need to forward the list of 25ish LANL grant winners.



 Meeting Adjourned



Don Hooper