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This opportunity is recommended for graduating Seniors or Graduate Students. Juniors and non-graduating Seniors are welcome to join.

Introducing ACEDLogo

Advisory Council for Engineering Development (ACED) was conceptualized in the summer of 2020 by Donya Ziraksari, an alumna of the UNM School of Engineering (SOE). Since then, it has grown into a 3-person Advisory Committee. As an organization, ACED believes in the world-class education that UNM SOE provides, and wants to help continue its mission to prepare UNM students for robust and rewarding careers, be they across the globe or in the Land of Enchantment.

ACED_FlyerACED was created to help UNM students gain quality, industry-level soft skills training and vital work skills that were not observed to be formally taught in the current UNM SoE curriculum. In New Mexico, the labor landscape for available graduate engineering positions is difficult due to various factors and is compounded by current global economic conditions. In order to remain competitive, it is critical that UNM Students obtain the real, functional, leadership and management skills that will set them apart from other institutions. Through the ACED workshops, students will receive introductions to actual training used in the fields of engineering industries. Full versions of this training cost employers thousands of dollars per employee.

Future goals include finding ways to empower SOE students. With this training, UNM students will be equipped to confidently choose careers either local to Albuquerque or beyond. ACED leadership is aware that many UNM students face the reality of having to leave their hometown to pursue careers in engineering that are not available here in New Mexico. Having each done so themselves, the ACED Advisory Board is keenly aware of the challenges students will face. This is why they are committed to preparing UNM engineering students to confidently navigate around similar challenges through the trainings offered. Other intentions include creating internship and co-op opportunities which allow students to work remotely, enabling them to stay in New Mexico while connecting to their co-workers across the world. Removing the physical limitations on where SOE graduates can work will increase the jobs available to them and help UNM deliver on its promise to the students. ACED works closely with the ESS Director and Internship/Job Placement Coordinator at the UNM to coordinate the logistics of the activities and connect with student participants.


To provide practical work experience to the students of the UNM Engineering Program through internships and co-ops with a variety of companies, with an emphasis on soft skills training through workshops and other initiatives.


To actively build professional networks and seek to provide local career opportunities in the field of engineering for UNM students with a primary focus on New Mexican based companies. The ultimate goal is to allow the Engineering students to gain/maintain a competitive edge upon entering the workforce after graduation.


To achieve the objective and goals, Advisory Council for Engineering Development (ACED) will target 3rd to 4th year undergraduate and graduate students for the following:

  • Soft skills training
  • Forging professional relationships between students and companies
  • Encouraging students to apply for opportunities and certifications
  • Training students to professionally navigate ethical and difficult work situations and toxic work environments
  • Introducing students on variety of professional careers with an engineering degree


Donya Donya Ziraksari, Chair
Project Manager / Innovation and Inspiration Engineer


B.S Mechanical Engineering, University of New Mexico, 2014
Project Management Professional License from Project Management Institute, 2018

Donya is living proof that we are only limited by what we let stop us. Born in Iran, she entered the U.S. as a religious refugee, and has come to love her adopted homeland of New Mexico. In 2014, she graduated from the University of New Mexico with her Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. By then, she had been a MATLAB Teaching Assistant, completed over two years of research on Green Energy and Sustainable Technologies, and became a double scholar through the NSF and McNair programs. Donya has always believed in giving back to the community that embraced her, and frequently volunteered for engineering events and outreach programs at the university. Upon graduation, she moved to Texas, and began her career in the oil and gas industry working for a few companies as a Project Manager. Currently, she works for ExxonMobil in Houston, TX, where she manages a wide portfolio of projects for the plants in Baytown Chemical and Refinery Complex. At ExxonMobil she was selected to join a team of experts to review the business case for delayed multi-million-dollar projects and investigate untapped project efficiencies to bring them back online. 
Tenille Tennille Bernard, Vice Chair
Restricted Substance & Product Disclosure Project Manager

Tennille Bernard, Vice Chair
Senior Product Compliance Manager



MBA, Missouri State University, 2018
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of New Mexico, 2014
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of New Mexico, 2011

Growing up, Tennille always wanted to know how machines worked. After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, she joined Cummins Inc. as a Senior Combustion Performance Emissions Engineer, working with natural gas engines. During her tenure as an engineer, she managed the testing requirements for certifying the L9N engine to EPA and California Optional NOx emissions standards and validated these findings both in the laboratory and the real world. Just before earning her MBA in 2018, Tennille moved to the corporate environmental team at Cummins, focusing on regulatory requirements in the supply chain as they pertain to restricted and prohibited substances. She focused on (re)designing processes and policies and creating programs which help Cummins meet compliance to applicable current and emergent global non-emission environmental regulations. 

As of January 2021, Tennille has joined Amazon, where she develops solutions to product compliance challenges for movement of products between the EU and the UK.

Ryan Ryan Griego, CM-Lean, Vice Chair
Project Manager, Corporate Solutions
Jones Lang LaSalle

M.S. Architectural Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 2016
B.S. Civil Engineering, University of New Mexico, 2014

For as long as he could remember, Ryan has always loved architecture and learning everything involved in creating our built environment. It was no surprise to anyone who knew him that he would go on to earn a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2014, followed by a master’s in Architectural Engineering from the University of Texas Austin in 2016. He spent three years in Texas sharpening his construction skills with a general contractor before becoming a Construction Project Manager with Jones Lang LaSalle, a leading construction management company located in San Francisco. Ryan has been delivering projects for several major tech firms throughout Silicon Valley and has recently been assigned to lead projects for one of the largest international automotive manufacturers, managing all real estate capital improvement and renovation activities. His favorite project involved building an indoor gymnasium, cafe, and performance stage for a K-12 charter school.  
All events will be held virtually via Zoom at 
  • Engineering Degrees and Career Possibilities
  • LinkedIn/Social Media/Networking
    • Presented by: UNM Mech E Alumni Donya Ziraksari and Tennille Bernard
    • When: Saturday, June 19, and July 24, 9:00 - 11:00 am