LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – A new leader has taken charge of New Mexico State University’s Physical Science lab and he has plenty of experience with cutting-edge technology from his time in the Army.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez, a 1987 graduate of NMSU, has come home to help lead this program at his alma mater.
Sanchez had more than three decades of experience in the Army, including serving as the commanding general at White Sands Missile Range. He also served at Fort Bliss.
His goal as the new director of the Physical Science Lab is to help students in the lab be more marketable with their skills.
“As commander at White Sands Missile Range, that gives me a good grasp of the interface between a civilian workforce and working with the Department of Defense – engineers, scientists and working in this type of environment,” he said.
The Physical Science Lab was founded in 1946 to help support the developing space and rocket programs in the United States.
From electronic warfare to aerospace, the lab has engineers prepared to tackle a variety of projects and research topics, some of them top secret.
Sanchez said his time in the Army helped him prepare to manage a large staff.
“In the Army, as a second lieutenant, you’re already responsible for up to 40 or 50 soldiers,” he said. “That just increases as you go up in rank.”
This fall, the lab is preparing a “classified ready” employee program which will allow juniors and seniors to gain a security clearance while still in school.
“Giving them the ability to work in a classified environment and they leave here with a clearance,” Sanchez said. “It makes them so marketable.”