New Mexico Tech
Located 80 miles south of Albuquerque in Socorro, New Mexico, New Mexico Tech (NMT) has about 1200 undergraduate students and 300 graduate students. NMT is one of the few Technical Communication programs to offer a BS rather than a BA degree.
Housed in the Humanities Department, the Technical Communication program produced its first graduate in 1984. Since then, over 90 students have graduated from the program. NMT is a school of science and engineering and, even in Humanities, students must complete a science concentration that includes successful completion of upper-level classwork as well as their Technical Communication coursework. This science concentration can be in any of the major disciplines offered by NMT.
The program prepares students to work in many key areas of our field. Students must take nine required courses and choose from several electives including usability, online information design, and publications management.
The Technical Communication program at NMT offers students several important benefits: given a faculty/student ratio of one-to-four, the students must complete an internship in the real world, and 32% of their credits must be in math, science, and engineering.
Opportunities for Professional Interaction
Additionally, students interact with professors who have ties to the outside profession, either through contracts they complete or through professional societies, such as the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
These activities allow the faculty to expose students to a diverse group of professional contacts because their involvement helps to bring professional events to New Mexico. Last year, NMT joined with New Mexico State University to host the prestigious CPSTC annual meeting.
Students have taken this example to heart. They have an outstanding STC Student Chapter, which won the Chapter Achievement Award from the Society in 1999. The NMT Student Chapter’s Newsletter, Technikos, won an Award of Merit in 1999 as well.
Post Graduate Opportunities
This preparation pays off when students leave the program. The most frequent comment heard from employers is “They’re ready to go to work.” Graduates have started their careers for technological leaders such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Compaq, Tech Reps, NEC, Westinghouse, and several national laboratories.
Currently, NMT offers one distance-learning course-Technical Writing at the 300 level. In the next three years, NMT plans to add more distance-learning classes and establish a Master of Science degree in Technical Communication. The MS would largely target professional technical communicators who want higher degrees or more advanced training in Technical Communication. If these plans are successful, such a program could be of immense benefit for Information Development departments.