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UNM engineering dept. successes touted

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico’s dean of engineering at a Wednesday meeting touted the school’s business successes while laying out plans for a possible tuition increase for engineering graduate students.

Speaking at the Economic Forum – a group of business leaders who meet to discuss economic issues and opportunities – Joseph Cecchi, the dean of engineering for UNM, said the school has secured 128 patents and started 21 businesses since fiscal year 2011 to 2015.

Cecchi also spoke about the possibility of increasing tuition rates for engineering graduate students compared to their fellow graduate students to keep the school’s revenue steady. Engineering undergraduate students already pay $15 more per credit hour compared to other undergraduates. Cecchi said the extra money helps pay the school’s faculty.

“We can’t sustain (our faculty) on the base tuition,” he said.”What’s interesting is that we actually had students talk to the regents a year ago and say they were in favor of it because of its value.”

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It’s unclear when graduate students could start paying more in tuition, but Cecchi said “we’re on path.” Cecchi said the engineering graduate program is one of the few at UNM without special tuition rates for graduate programs.

The school of engineering has about 2,300 undergrad students, about 430 masters-seeking students and roughly 420 doctorate-seeking students for a total of roughly 3,100 students. According to UNM data, the school of engineering has been the fastest growing school for undergrads since 2008.

The board of regents voted earlier this week to increase tuition by 2.5 percent and students fees by 10.4 percent – adding an estimated $286 to the bill for a full-time student in the 2016-17 school year.

Cecchi said the department of engineering’s goals include increasing its presence nationally. That requires, Cecchi said, continuing to build the school’s ties with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

“It’s this community that we’re attached to and serve,” he said. “And we want as much engagement as we can get.”

UNM as a whole has 173 joint patents with Sandia, and 39 with Los Alamos. Not all of those patents are with the school of engineering, but spokeswoman Kim Delker said a “good portion” are with the school of engineering.

Cecchi also said the school will continue to work with the Science and Technology Corp., a nonprofit associated with UNM.


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