Students in the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University will benefit from a recent $50,000 gift from Western Refining, Inc., headquartered in El Paso, Tex.
The majority of the gift will be used for engineering scholarships. Western Refining consistently recruits graduates from the College of Engineering at NMSU and scholarships funded by the company will be offered to students in all of the engineering disciplines.
Another major portion of the Western Refining gift will support the recruiting and retention of engineering students.
The Pre-Engineering Freshman Program (PREP), an intensive six-week summer pre-engineering program at NMSU targeting middle- and high-school age children, will receive support from this gift. The program curriculum includes math and science preparation, computer science, engineering design and team building skills. More than 98 percent of the students who have participated in PREP during the past 10 years have gone on to pursue higher education in math, engineering and science. While academic achievement is required for students accepted into the program, more than 50 percent are economically disadvantaged, more than 60 percent are female and more than 70 percent are Hispanic.
The Western Refining gift also supports Integrated Learning Communities (ILCs) at NMSU. ILCs target the retention of at-risk undergraduate freshman engineering students—students who require remedial math courses before they can begin the engineering curriculum. Historically, only 20-25 percent of these students ultimately earn a degree in engineering. ILCs support students by integrating their first-year coursework and provide peer mentoring and faculty support. A three-year ILC pilot program has yielded an increase in retention rates of 81 percent. The College of Engineering now requires all at-risk entering freshmen students to participate in the ILC program.
The remainder of the funds will be used to support student projects in the chemical, mechanical and electrical and computer engineering departments. Hands-on, capstone design projects are required for all graduating engineering students.
“We are extremely pleased with the investment Western Refining is making in the engineering education of our youth. The funds being received will help us to increase the opportunities for talented young students to enter into a career in engineering,” said Steven P. Castillo, dean of the College of Engineering.
Western Refining, Inc. is the nation’s fourth largest publicly traded independent oil refiner. The company operates primarily in the Southwestern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Through its refineries and affiliated companies, Western Refining serves a broad customer base in Arizona, southern California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, west Texas, Utah, northern Chihuahua, Mexico, and the central East Coast region.