Engineering students at New Mexico State University have the opportunity to work with some of the most advanced electronics measurement equipment available—the same equipment they will likely use when they enter the workforce. A newly equipped electronics laboratory at NMSU is the result of a long-term relationship with Tektronix, Inc.
“It is the most state-of-the-art electronics lab in the region and will allow our students to develop the skill sets to be productive upon graduation,” said Engineering Technology and Surveying Engineering Department Head Sonya Cooper.
Through educational discounts and grants from the Tektronix Foundation, 19 mixed-signal oscilloscopes and 19 arbitrary-function generators were provided to NMSU at nearly half their commercial value of $221,000. NMSU provided matching funds for the equipment that is used to test and analyze electrical circuitry.
“About three-fourths of the students in the engineering technology program will be exposed to this equipment, as well as students from other engineering departments,” said Associate Professor Tom Jenkins. Faculty and staff will utilize the equipment for research projects.
The laboratory will be used in lower-level classes to allow students to demonstrate theory and look at various electronic designs that have been presented as an exercise. Upper-level students will use the equipment to test electronic devices that they have built, such as computer boards. Such capstone projects are a requirement for graduation in engineering.
“As their skill levels increase, students will have equipment that will keep pace with the complexity of the problems they are working on,” explained Jenkins. “Tektronix is a leader in industry. Our students will be experienced in using this equipment when they go to work for companies like Intel or Motorola.”
The Tektoronix/NMSU partnership began 19 years ago with Senior Account Manager Michael Portillo.
“When I started with Tektronix, I saw the void between what the schools were working with and the state-of-the-art equipment used in industry,” said Portillo. “I saw there was an opportunity to help the school through the Tektronix Foundation. I’m very happy that we have a program that allows us to put the technology where it’s needed.”
In 1993, Portillo facilitated an arrangement that first equipped the NMSU electronics laboratory with the latest Tektronix equipment. This second arrangement took several years to finalize and the equipment was installed earlier this year.
“The technology has changed and the capability has increased significantly in the past 15 years,” said Portillo.
“The original equipment has been very useful to us, but the new equipment is a huge improvement,” said Jenkins. “The new equipment can track multiple electronic signals, it’s networked for computers, computer storage is built in and it’s smaller, faster and more ergonomic.”
Because of the steep learning curve required to master the use of this equipment, graduates from the NMSU program will be more employable.
“The electronics field is developing quickly,” said Cooper. “Employers want us to teach with the most advanced equipment. This will definitely make our program and our students stronger.”