Military Background Helps Building Information Modeling Major Progress Toward Early Graduation Day

Aaron Sansosie’s military experience aided his university education

Published February 17, 2017

CROWNPOINT, NEW MEXICO – When Navajo Technical University Building Information Modeling (BIM) major Aaron Sansosie was told that it would be nearly impossible to complete his degree in less than two years; he took it as a personal challenge to overcome. A year and a half later, the Flatrock, AZ native is doing just that, which he attributes to the commitment and self-discipline instilled in him while enlisted in the United States military.

Sansosie first came to NTU in 2015 after growing restless five years after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. He enlisted in the National Guard and shortly after enrolled in NTU’s Chinle instructional site’s carpentry certificate program, which he graduated within a year.  Wanting to continue his education, Sansosie then found NTU’s associate of applied science degree in BIM, which sparked his interest because of its relative correlation to the training he received in the carpentry program.

“I read a flyer about the BIM program and it sounded interesting. At first I thought it might have been a hack class, but when I came here I was shocked,” stated Sansosie, who was caught off guard by the advanced software utilized by the program in creating models. “I never thought I’d be playing around with [AutoCAD and Revit] where I’m dealing with images or making floor plans.”

Building information modeling is a relatively new discipline of drafting that provides students with a flexible knowledge in the areas of architecture, management, and sustainable products. The program focuses on 3D modeling and combines laser scanning technology with Autodesk Revit software to reinforce learning. In total, the program requires 69 credit hours at NTU’s main campus, which usually takes the average student about two and a half years to complete. In order to get ahead, Sansosie has been taking between 17-19 credit hours a semester, which has helped keep his days busy.

On an average weekday, Sansosie wakes up around 6:00 am where he gets in a quick workout at NTU’s Wellness Center, showers, and prepares for his day. He then goes to class from 9:30 am to 12:20 pm, before heading to NTU’s tutoring lab where he spends the rest of the day doing his assignments and other projects. After another quick workout at the Wellness Center, Sansosie gets a bite to eat and retires for the night in preparation for another day of class. While the schedule may seem grueling for any student, it’s important to note that Sansosie does this all while sleeping out of his truck.

“The cost of living here is pretty high, especially in the dorms and having three meals a day. Sometimes Pell won’t cover it all, which leaves me in debt. Even with my veteran benefits, which help me out a lot,” explained Sansosie. “To clear all that up, I made a decision to sleep and go to school from my truck. This gives me more time to get up, go do my classes, do my studies, and then go to sleep without having anybody there to bother me.”

“Some nights I get cold, and some nights I freeze,” Sansosie continued. “But in the morning I feel better. Some days I don’t eat, but I’m used to that lifestyle. It’s self-motivation and using my military discipline to get up, exercise, and do my studies.”

Once he graduates from NTU Sansosie would like to continue into a baccalaureate program and then a graduate degree program with the end goal of becoming an architectural engineer. Although he credits his military experience for getting him where he is today, it is his family that is motivating him on where he needs to go in the future.

“What motivates me is I have four sons…and I’m their hero. Even though I’m old, I still want to let them know I’m able to go to school,” Sansosie explained, whose eldest is in high school and youngest is entering grade school. “One day my oldest son will go to college, and I want to be there for him. I want him to have a better education and to have less of a struggle than what I’m going through here.”

With that hope, Sansosie was grateful for the help he’s received during his educational journey. He stated, “I would like add my appreciation to my family and my instructors from both the Chinle and Crownpoint sites, who gave me the tools and knowledge to pursue a higher education.”

For more information about Navajo Technical University’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Information Modeling please contact Elisha Wortham at For more information about Navajo Technical University visit


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