Central New Mexico Community College Ingenuity Program

Hispanic Community June 2023 PREMIUM
CNM Ingenuity leads innovation in higher education in New Mexico, by creating and promoting training programs that encourage job access and support to new and existing industries.

Leveraging the Underrepresented

Written by Kyle V. Lee

Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, sits in the high desert of Central New Mexico, with a unique mix of Native and Hispanic cultures. Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) regularly ranks among the top five two-year colleges nationwide for the number of associate degrees and certificates awarded to both Hispanics and Native Americans. CNM also regularly ranks among the top 10 for total associate degrees and certificates awarded to all students. To serve New Mexico’s unique population more broadly, the college elevated entrepreneurial thinking and practices to expand the ways it meets the workforce and economic needs of New Mexico. The college began this effort by establishing CNM Ingenuity Inc (Ingenuity).

Fostering Economic Development: A Mission

CNM Ingenuity, a 501(c)3 arm of the college created under the New Mexico Research Park and Economic Development Act, has a mission to promote the public welfare and prosperity of individuals and fosters economic development. Ingenuity creates and runs accelerated training programs and partnerships that encourage job creation and support new and existing industries. This programming is developed with a design thinking methodology and can be started at the pace needed to meet our partner’s expectations.

In addition to training the workforce to meet the needs of the community, CNM Ingenuity also provides entrepreneurs and existing industries with a wide variety of support services to help their businesses grow and thrive, contributing to economic development and job creation. CNM Ingenuity regularly embarks on efforts that have never been achieved before in higher education and is thus at the forefront of innovation.

Ingenuity was built around a culture that supports an entrepreneurial mindset. To quickly meet the economic and workforce needs of New Mexico, Ingenuity takes action, seeks opportunities, makes meaningful connections, strategically leverages the college’s resources, innovates, and pilots new ideas that, more often than not, succeed.  When they fail, we take note and learn. Just like entrepreneurs, success comes from quickly trying new things and building upon what works. Much of Ingenuity’s success is integrating a systems approach to learning and working. As an innovation hub, it takes on leading edge projects and connects them to services, academic and work-based learning opportunities. It is not enough to simply train someone to build the community, there is always an opportunity to connect learning with experience and action.

Ingenuity’s Main Programs

As one of Ingenuity’s most prominent programs, Deep Dive runs bootcamps that immerse learners in entrepreneurial ecosystems and continuous learning networks, teaching skills in a variety of technologies. The award-winning, accelerated workforce training programs are cohort-based and fully immersive, with full-time learners participating 40-60 hours per week for 10 or 12 weeks. Our bootcamps are accessible, interconnected, industry-responsive, employer- and community-integrated learning opportunities with wrap-around services. The diverse audience consists of recent high school graduates, returning learners looking to upskill to the latest technology, and working learners who are seeking professional development to advance their careers.

From the inception of Deep Dive in 2013, over 1,300 learners have completed a bootcamp or other IT training program. Over 90% of learners end the full-time bootcamps and receive a certificate, and 95% of those learners are employed by one-year post-graduation. Deep Divers income increases on average by 47%, with an average starting salary for our graduates of $50K. Deep Dive graduates tend to rise quickly in their tech positions, with many who graduated a few years ago now making six figure salaries. Over nine years, this professional advancement is calculated to have generated over $52 million in increased wages and represents over $120 million in total wages.  

To complement immersive training such as Deep Dive, Ingenuity has the FUSE Makerspace, a community-based workshop that provides access to equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, woodworking tools, and other traditional crafting materials. It is often used by hobbyists, entrepreneurs, artists, and students to develop new skills and learn from others in the community.

Over the years, learners from Deep Dive or members of FUSE have started dozens of companies. To support these companies and boost the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship, Ingenuity runs Activate NM. This program provides resources and support for early-stage startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs in various industries, including technology, healthcare, and agriculture. One of the key goals of Activate NM is to build a diverse and inclusive ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation in New Mexico. The program aims to support entrepreneurs and businesses from all backgrounds and communities, including women, people of color, and those from rural areas. This expertise has expanded to include access to capital, including a venture fund that has provided seed capital to more than 30 companies.

Finally, the Hyperspace Challenge, a program in partnership with Air Force Research Labs, identifies and connects leading space technology development with government agencies. Not only does Ingenuity run these accelerator programs, but the companies participating in the Hyperspace Challenge often relocate to Albuquerque to be a part of the space community and hire Ingenuity learners. Success through Hyperspace Challenge resulted in Ingenuity leading the development of the Space Valley Coalition, a collaboration of space companies, services and innovators seeking to build a new space industry in New Mexico.

Ingenuity’s Impact

As a result of all of the programs presented above, Ingenuity is recognized as an innovation engine, successful at leading and managing extremely advanced and future forward programming, making it accessible to the diverse community of New Mexico.

Alicia Vigil graduated from a Deep Dive bootcamp in 2021. “After graduating from UNM with my bachelor’s, I started looking at becoming a Software Developer and how I could actually make that dream a reality. I was recommended to try out Deep Dive Coding. I ended up completing the Fullstack Web Development Bootcamp. I am still shocked at how much you can actually learn in 10 weeks. Right after I completed the bootcamp I was offered employment as a Software Engineer for a company called Chenega. We work for the NNSA/DOE as contractors. Everything I learned in the bootcamp is directly applicable to the job I have now. I wouldn’t be where I am without Deep Dive, and now I get to have a career that I absolutely love doing.” Alicia’s is one of thousands of stories that illustrate CNM Ingenuity’s impact in New Mexico. •

About the author:

Kyle V. Lee is the founding CEO of CNM Ingenuity. Unleashing the innovative potential of teams is the binding theme for each role he has taken. He has held numerous senior leadership roles in finance and technology. Kyle holds an MBA from the University of New Mexico and a BA in Quantitative Economics from Stanford University.


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