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


About ACED @ UNM

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

ACED 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 students. With this training, UNM students will be equipped to confidently choose careers either local to Albuquerque or beyond. The 2020 ACED Advisory Board 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 when making those moves. This is why they are committed to preparing UNM students to face those challenges through these trainings. Other intentions include creating internship and co-op opportunities which allow students to work remotely, allowing them to stay in New Mexico while connecting to their co-workers across the world. Removing the physical limitations on where our students can work will increase the jobs available to them and help UNM deliver on its promise to the students.


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


DonyaExecutive Director Donya Ziraksari
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. Most recently she has been selected tochallenge the execution strategies of paused, multi-million dollar projects to reduce execution costs and to ensure a safe, productive, and effective project re-start.  Donya continues as an innovative and inspirational engineer, leading continuous improvement and evolution in plant processes worldwide.
TenilleDirector Tennille Bernard
Restricted Substance & Product Disclosure Project 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 currently focuses on (re)designing processes and policies and creating programs which help Cummins meet compliance to applicable current and emergent global non-emission environmental regulations.
RyanDirector Ryan Griego, CM-Lean
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.  
...coming soon...