Another Transformation Begins

Another Transformation Begins 

The fall semester at Southeast New Mexico College is underway with no connections to New Mexico State University remaining, at least not any apparent to our students.  There was one final step we had been awaiting:  the ability for students to add our college, independent of NMSU, to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  On August 24, we appeared on the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site with our new school code of 043006.  Once students add our school code on their FAFSA, we can continue the process of determining their federal aid eligibility (in addition to state aid) for the 2023-2024 school year.  We hope to have all students add our new code in the coming weeks.

With one transformation approaching completion, another one revealed itself:  An $11.7 million grant from the US Department of Energy.  A five-year plan was submitted last winter, one that would allow the college to serve the workforce development needs of the Department of Energy in our region.  The announcement of funding on August 14 heralds a new day for the creation of a talent pipeline for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  One element is a new Radiologic Control Technology program at SENMC.  To meet immediate needs, we will begin a training program this fall with the intention of initiating a full degree program over the next school year. 


This is, however, only one part of what the grant will support.  We will be expanding underground training and safety programming, enhancing programs in industrial maintenance, robotics, and instrumentation, growing our electrical training into a full degree program, and begin building a waste handling operations program.  All these programs are included in our planned Trades x Technologies Building, also known by its “T squared” nickname, which is under development. 

This work will be on multiple levels.  We will offer short-term training open to anyone interested, with the electrical training beginning on September 18 being the next opportunity.  We will expand our dual credit opportunities with local high schools to prepare students for entry into these fields, as well as other related ones.  Courses, both short- and long-term, will be available to current employees in local industries, for those brushing up and those expanding their skill sets.  It will be an “all of the above” approach, one that includes more than just traditional academic program pathways.  

This broad-based support demonstrates what an incredible long-term investment the US Department of Energy is making in Eddy County.  They realize that we, as a region, must make a commitment to career and technical education that so that there is not just a single stream of training for specific positions.  The needs in today’s workplaces evolve quickly.  Individuals who have gained proficiency in one technical field can often translate their skills to a new field much more rapidly.  Being able to generalize and see the connections and similarities between sectors makes an employee more likely to be able to contribute to an organization’s growth and competitiveness.  By nurturing multiple technical fields, this funding feeds the need to grow our own local talent rather than recruit it from outside.  This has the potential to serve our area well for years to come, because places with skilled workforces become fertile for more industrial growth.  

We are grateful for the opportunity to assist the US Department of Energy with their training and workforce development needs while they plant the seeds for future economic growth in Carlsbad and the surrounding area.  It will be a harvest years in the making, but one well worth the wait. 

Kevin Beardmore may be reached at or 575.234.9211.