The Northern community and engineering students in particular love the Solar Energy Research Park and Academy (SERPA), which has blossomed as a state-of-the-art learning center, thanks in no small part to the generous support of ConocoPhillips.
SERPA is home to Northern’s College of Engineering and Technology, which currently offers Bachelor’s and Associate degrees in Information Engineering Technology, Software Engineering and Electromechanical Engineering Technology.
With more than $70,000 in contributions from ConocoPhillips over the past five years, SERPA has made infrastructure improvements to classrooms and community spaces, building on its reputation as the most functional and aesthetic building on Northern’s campus.
Notably, every SERPA classroom now features SMART Board technology, providing enhanced interactive and collaborative learning environments for students. Besides seamlessly combining interactive whiteboard, computer and projector input, SMART Boards also record lecture material and allow students campus-wide to access that material outside of the classroom.
For engineering students taking a difficult freshman class, Introduction to Math for Engineering Applications, the funds have meant new equipment for hands-on robotics, motion, thermal, and solar experiments.
“First year engineering majors benefit greatly from these applied learning experiences, which result in better learning outcomes and increased first-year retention,” said Dr. Lopez, Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. “I don’t want to say that the class is easier with the new equipment, but difficult mathematical concepts are easier to grasp with hands-on active learning equipment.”
In addition to the hardware and software, ConocoPhillips funds made the lobby and outdoor areas lively centers for student interaction, resulting in more students studying and spending time at SERPA. These improvements include lounge chairs, a sofa, and tables and chairs in the building’s lobby and classrooms, outdoor patio furniture, and stools for computer labs.
ConocoPhillips’ support of Northern’s engineering students through years of generous contributions has noticeably enriched the student experience at Northern.
“We are profoundly grateful for the support ConocoPhillips has provided to Northern students, “said Dr. Lopez, “and for the impact this support has had on a geographic area in northern New Mexico that has been historically underserved.”