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Time to Soar at This Roswell University

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell plays a vital role in preparing students for tomorrow's careers.

By Teree Caruthers on December 9, 2022

Emery Carter attempts to land a Cessna on the flight simulator as Keith Knoesel helps her at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.
Nathan Lambrecht

A readily available workforce is a cornerstone of the Roswell and Chaves County region’s economic development strategy – particularly for growing industries, such as health care and aviation.

Offering more than two dozen associate degree and certificate programs, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU-R) plays a vital role in keeping a steady pipeline of talent flowing.

ENMU-R works with employers to identify business needs and then tailors curriculum to meet those needs.

“When we look at these workforce needs, especially critical shortages in areas of specific labor career fields in New Mexico, and then nationally, we are working to get students into careers that can help meet those needs,” says Shawn Powell, ENMU-R president.

A prime example is the work being done locally to fill workforce gaps in the aviation industry, Powell says. The school’s two-year Aviation Maintenance Technology program – which celebrated 50 years of continuous instruction in 2022 – is the only FAA Part 147 Airframe and Powerplant program in southeast New Mexico.

Instructor Andrea Fitzsimmons shows students a Beechcraft E-50 the school uses for the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.

The campus is located at Roswell Air Center, which is the site of the former Walker Air Force Base, which closed in 1967.

Powell says the fact that students can train at a former Strategic Air Command base makes the program attractive to the numerous aviation repair maintenance organizations around the air center.

“We’re working to meet the needs of those organizations to help keep the planes in the air,” Powell says. “In New Mexico, aviation maintenance is one of the fields that is experiencing a shortage locally as well as nationally. The average age of the aviation maintenance technician workforce is about 58, so they’re getting to a point where most of them are going to be retiring.”

ENMU-R graduates meet the requirements to take the necessary exams to become an airframe and power-plant mechanic, with many of them working in local aircraft maintenance repair organizations while completing their studies.

Meeting Nursing Needs

Powell says nursing remains another high-demand field, and to address shortages, the college added courses to accommodate more students.

“In January 2022, we added a second cohort of classes. Previously, students could only enter the nursing program in the fall, and we typically took in 30 students who would then go through the two-year cohort.

Highly Ranked

The nursing program ranked No. 1 in the state in 2020 and was named one of the top 15 programs in the Southwest in 2021 by website nursingprocess.org.

“By adding the spring cohort of another 30 students, we basically doubled the size of the nursing student body,” Powell says.

The college’s career and technical education programs each have an advisory board made up of local business and industry leaders who work with faculty and staff to ensure the curriculum and training offered to students is state-of-the-art instruction and meets the needs of the community.

Collaboration is a key component of education at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.
Nathan Lambrecht

Smart Starts

Powell says the college’s workforce development efforts begin well before students arrive on campus. ENMU-R hosts an early college high school, which allows students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and college degree or certificate.

The college also participates in college and career fairs, coordinates on-campus visits and offers dual enrollment courses for local high schools.

“There’s been a big push in the U.S. to look at career and technical education as viable options for students who don’t necessarily want to follow a four-year traditional degree path at college or at universities,” Powell says.

“Our campus is primarily a career and technical education program. If you think about where we are as a country in terms of shortages of qualified, skilled labor in areas like construction and maintenance and health care, then it’s easy to see why we need career and technical programs. We try to bring this awareness to high school students and their families.”

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