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Revived NMJC Construction Trades Program Offers Green Emphasis

8/1/2013 10:59:25 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. HOBBS –As new construction booms in the Hobbs area in answer to the demand for housing, local residents may have noticed that a lot of the construction workers are from somewhere else. Organizers and planners of New Mexico Junior College’s Construction Trades program are hoping to change that soon, as a newly revamped program returns this fall to the college after a few years’ hiatus.

“We have carpenters, masons and electricians from Houston and Dallas and I even saw some from Wisconsin,” said Jerry Morris, the lead instructor of the program. “It’s because we don’t have qualified people, and we haven’t had a way to get training for the last few years.”

NMJC will be offering evening instruction in Carpentry, Plumbing, Masonry and Electrical for college-level students, as well as dual credit in these programs for high school juniors and seniors. The emphasis for the new two-year program, said Dennis Atherton, vice president for instruction, will be Green Building techniques. Another change is that the program has become more Work Force oriented, meaning that the emphasis is on turning students into workers who can command higher pay than if they entered these industries from the ground floor. If the student chooses, he or she can quickly become certified and go on to join the work force in less time than a traditional two-year degree will take.

Atherton said that the program was resurrected after he was approached by Building Trades students at Hobbs High School who saw that NMJC had the program on its records, and that the program featured a viable degree, but that it hadn’t been offered in a few years.

“They asked us to bring it back on line, saying they wanted an Associate of Arts degree,” Atherton said. He worked with Morris, who is the Mechanical and Industrial Careers instructor at Hobbs High School, to do just that. The program also enlists instructors who are certified in masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing.

The certificate and degree plans are for Construction Trades, with emphases in the specializations.

Morris said the program will offer a viable alternative for students who have just gotten their GEDs or are just out of high school and don’t want to start out at minimum wage in the oil field or mines. 

“If they want to do better, they can get certification for their industrial and mechanical skills,” he said. “They don’t have to start at the bottom.”

The evening courses for the college students are designed for a self-pacing, non-traditional student, in that there is not a heavy concentration on lectures, but rather hands-on learning. Students who want to pursue certification can aim for two: the one that NMJC offers, as well as the National Center for Construction Education and Research certification that shows they have achieved a certain level of proficiency and are ready for employment at that level anywhere in the country.

Those who want to pursue the two-year degree are encouraged to enroll in classes in business and accounting, in the expectation that one day, they will want to run their own businesses, Morris said. Each program, be it for the certificate or degree, offers training in soft skills, such as work ethics and communication.

As for the green component in the newly revised program, Morris said that students will be introduced to LEED, or Leadership in Industry and Environmental, design principles. The instruction will teach students about sustainability, energy efficiency, minimizing pollution and other principles embraced by the Green Building industry. Further, students who complete the Green Building course of instruction may move into alternative energy fields such as wind, solar and nuclear that the college already offers.

Introduction to Construction Trades will be offered on Mondays, 6 to 10 p.m. The following classes will be offered on Tuesdays, 6 to 10 p.m.: Carpentry, Level One; Plumbing, Level One; Masonry, Level One; and Electrical, Level One.  Instruction at Hobbs High School begins August 14, while the fall semester at NMJC begins August 19.

“One of the reasons we’re bringing this program back is this entire Southeastern New Mexico area is really exploding as far as businesses are concerned,” said Atherton. “We’re expecting the expansion of the uranium enrichment facility in the coming years. There’s a big new potash mine opening up. And along with this growth, we have a lack of housing throughout Southeastern New Mexico. The building of additional living accommodations has already skyrocketed and will continue to grow. And NMJC intends to be a viable part of this growth.”

For more information about the program, contact Atherton at 575.492.2763, or

NMJC is a comprehensive community college located in Hobbs and serving Southeastern New Mexico and some West Texas communities.

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