Louis Moya and Enrico Trujillo of the Digital Media Arts program

Practical, applied education at UNM-Taos

By Bill Knief

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In the interest of full disclosure, I have always had a personal fondness for Taos Local Television, ever since a few of us—Candyce O’Donnell, Gail Russell, Rose Rutherford, Rick Romancito, Kathy Cordova, George Chacon, Bob Romero and I, if I recall correctly—created a nonprofit corporation and formed the first TLT board of directors some thirty years ago.

Thanks to the dedication of many board members and only a handful of general managers over the years, most notably Ron Usherwood and Tom Myers, whose unique contributions and personal commitment were the mainstay of Cable Channel Two (now 22), the public access station has gone from a cinder block bunker in the middle of a cow pasture off Ranchitos Road with no heat, no plumbing and one bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling to its current locations upstairs over the Town Council chambers on Civic Plaza Drive and a fully functioning production studio across the street overseen by Louis Moya, the UNM-Taos Director of Development.

But here’s the exciting part: the station is now an integral part of a newly created UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts program offering both a 31 credit hour Certificate in Information Technologies and a 67 credit hour Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media Arts (DMA). Moya explained that the DMA program offers “a solid foundation in technology, a rich creative background in the arts, and the communication skills necessary to convey ideas in the digital realm.”

Students working toward the associate degree in media arts will gain hands-on experience by helping to run the station as interns at the Taos Channel 22 public access, education and government facility (the URL is www.taos22.com) and digital production studio along with pre-existing campus digital media and computer labs. This, in a way, represents the latest transformation of the station into an arm of the community college and, as the DMA program proposal puts it, “the program…provides a pathway for students into careers in IT and the growing field of digital media….[It] pursues these goals through practical, applied education geared toward entry level positions in digital media and IT support.” In other words, our public access station is now part of UNM-Taos’ workforce development and career readiness mandate. If that appeals to you, call 737-6200 right away and ask to speak to an advisor. The first day of fall semester is August 19.

Jim Sanborn, UNM-Taos instructor and Taos Municipal School Board member, is responsible for the second component of the DMA program, the Certificate in Information Technologies, which prepares students for entry-level positions in information technology support.

Speaking as someone whose IT skills pretty much begin and end with being able to charge my own cell phone, I have a genuine respect for those individuals that we rely upon to keep things running in our increasingly complicated world.

“We’re providing the opportunity to obtain a workforce certificate that positions you to qualify for an entry-level job starting in the $35,000 range, and accomplish that in as little as one year,” Sanborn maintained in a telephone interview. “This isn’t a disembodied training program. Our approach is performance based, and we use a software simulation package that is the industry standard. It not only speeds up the learning process but puts you in the real-world IT environment without risking business downtime and making mistakes that could damage equipment systems.”

In other words, it’s like a flight simulator that lets you crash the plane without hurting anyone.

In addition to core course work the program teaches IT support, cyber security, networking, visualization and business intelligence. If you are interested, whether you have academic training or workforce experience that you want to sharpen and expand, you can email Jim Sanborn at jsanborn@unm.edu. We expect interest in the new Digital Media Arts Program for either the design track or IT technical track to be considerable, so the sooner you look into them, the better.

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