SFCC and Los Alamos National Laboratory announce collaboration in support of SFCC’s Machining Engineering Technologies certificate

Combining classroom and hands-on training provides path to high-paying job opportunities

Lead SFCC Machining Engineering Technologies faculty member Miguel Maestas shown in the Machining and Tooling Lab.

Santa Fe Community College and Los Alamos National Laboratory announce a collaboration in support of the college’s revised Machining Engineering Technologies certificate. LANL has seen a steady increase in the need for machinists over the last six years and anticipates that the need will continue to expand.

The college will start recruiting students this summer for the program, which will begin this fall. Students in the program would attend classes Monday through Thursday and then participate in a hands-on internship on Fridays at LANL. Those who go on to work at LANL have the potential to have a starting salary between $56,000 to $66,500 based on their education and experience.

SFCC President Becky Rowley said, “The college is very excited to move forward with this collaboration with LANL. We’re glad to respond to the growing demand at LANL for skilled machinists. This program will offer SFCC students a path to high-paying jobs in the region.”

“The Laboratory is pleased to work with partners like SFCC to build a regional workforce that benefits both Northern New Mexico and the Laboratory,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “Bringing good-paying, technical job opportunities to our local area is one of the ways that we support our communities.”

“This is a hands-on STEM program,” said associate dean Colleen Lynch, “It would be a good fit for students who like to solve practical problems, can read plans and diagrams, are good at visualizing in 3D, and are both creative and precise. It requires students who are ready for intermediate or college algebra, who like using tools and computers, and who like to understand how things work.”

Lynch and lead engineering faculty member Miguel Maestas have collaborated with key adjunct faculty members in developing the curriculum. “We worked with the adjunct faculty in machining—including Mike Thompson, Joseph Banar, and Stefan Schwab— who have experience as engineers, machinists, and designers,” Lynch said. “The adjunct faculty played a key role. We could not have done it without their support and expertise. Mike took the lead on curriculum development. We based the curriculum on NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) standards. We consulted with machining directors at LANL, including Rick Johnson.”

Johnson, a Line Manager at LANL said many people there have contributed to the development of the cooperative program with SFCC. He cited the following as having key roles: Kevin Gallahue, Deputy Division Leader; Rolanda Salazar-Martinez, Group Leader; Vince Melton, Special Materials Machinist; Jeramie Rick, Special Materials Machinist and Jackie Valdez, Program Manager for Human Capital Strategy for Weapons Production.

The college recently revised the Machining Engineering Technologies certificate in collaboration with LANL to improve the alignment with workforce demands and requirements.


These are the goals/results that SFCC and LANL have identified to achieve through this initiative:

  • An entry-level cohort of machinists competent in The National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Inc. (NIMS) certification from which LANL can recruit from for possible internships and future employment at LANL;
  • A targeted joint recruitment program focused on regional high schools with strong trades programs in order to strengthen the pipeline to meet LANL needs;
  • Two dedicated slots in the recruitment program to be available for LANL;
  • An opportunity for LANL staff to strengthen their skills by supporting the program at SFCC through teaching courses and mentoring students in the program;
  • A student internship program allowing SFCC degree program students who meet LANL’s qualifications for admittance into the Undergraduate Student Internship Program to spend one day per week during the school year at the Lab beginning in their first semester of studies and possibly during the summer between the second and third semester.

“SFCC is extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity to expand our collaborative relationship with LANL by utilizing the resources we have to produce graduates who can be guaranteed jobs that are in demand,” said SFCC Dean of School of Sciences, Health, Engineering and Math Jenny Landen.

Miguel Maestas, lead Engineering Technologies faculty member said, “I am proud to be a part of developing a program that will support a portion of LANL’s machinists needs while providing students with an opportunity to excel in this ever-expanding field.”

SFCC is developing an application process for students interested in the certificate/training program. Prospective students should contact either instructor Miguel Maestas (miguel.maestas@sfcc.edu) or Colleen Lynch (colleen.lynch@sfcc.edu) soon for more information and to be added to the email list for the application process. Eligible students will be notified this summer if they are selected for the program beginning this fall.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory: Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

Santa Fe Community College celebrates its 40th Anniversary as the pathway to success for individuals and the community. SFCC provides affordable, high-quality programs that serve the academic, cultural, and economic needs of the community. The college welcomes over 10,000 students per year in credit, noncredit, workforce training, personal enrichment, and adult programs.
A “Best for Vets” and a “Military Friendly” school.

Visit sfcc.edu or call 505-428-1000.

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