Story and Photos by

Mark Graven

Staff Writer

Two huge “CNM” block-letter signs and a large solar panel welcome visitors to the CNM Rio Rancho campus, located near the edge of the desert, at the end of a road that passes by Rio Ranch City Hall. 

About a 30-minute drive due north of Main Campus, the Rio Rancho campus, at 2601 Campus Boulevard, Northeast, has won recognition for its energy-efficient design.  It consists of one 62,000 square foot, mostly red-brick building, with many large windows that afford spectacular views of the desert.

Rio Rancho takes advantage of nature’s gifts.  Solar panels are placed strategically around campus to provide power.   A deep-well system brings up water from the earth at a temperature of 68 degrees, Fahrenheit. The water then heats the building in winter, and cools it in summer, according to a CNM website.

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A concrete path by the north parking lot puts a person right at desert’s edge, and a sign explains what kind of flora an fauna one is likely to find in the area.   Personnel at the front desk say they sometimes have to shoo rattlesnakes from the parking lot.   Hawks, ravens, spiders, and coyotes also enjoy this environment.

And now more people are returning, after a Covid-induced drought of more than a year.  CNM employees at the front desk, say that students are beginning to trickle in to register and receive academic coaching, as Fall Semester approaches.

Today, a group of prospective electric linemen are seen on the grounds east of the main building, addressing a set of utility poles, undeterred by a few raindrops on this cloudy day of June 30, 2021.  A mobile unit parked east-side enables welding students to pursue their craft outside.

Inside the building, class-room chairs are still stowed on the top of desks.  Tables and chairs in RR building’s central courtyard, and various alcoves around the building await users.

The Rio Rancho campus, when it is going full-bore, may serve upwards of 1800 students who come to attend classes in general studies, but also receive specialized training in nursing, paramedics, teaching, business, and more.

Built more than a decade ago, the Rio Rancho campus seems adjusted to its place in the desert.  The campus provides a comfortable venue for a student to find a spot to sit and observe the desert as it comes to bloom again.

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