Retired Army Brig. Gen. Eric L. Sanchez believes teamwork and trust are two important components to leading an organization. Sanchez plans to apply that philosophy as the new director of New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory.
Following three decades of military service, Sanchez, a 1987 NMSU graduate, joined PSL in October 2019 as deputy director. He succeeds Jim Chavez, who stepped down as director in mid-June.
“Eric is an outstanding leader who already heads many of the efforts at PSL, understands the mission and programs, has been prepared and is postured for a seamless transition,” NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said. “He has the background, experience and vision to keep PSL moving in the right direction.”
Founded by NMSU in 1946, PSL has supported various government and private sector scientific and technical activities throughout the United States and the world through contracts and research agreements. Sanchez wants to maintain that tradition while encouraging employees and improving equipment.
“In order to create new opportunities, which is what we are trying to do, you also have to invest in your organization,” he said.
Sanchez also plans to revive student programs and enhance interaction with faculty. Currently, the PSL staff is preparing this fall for the Classified Ready Employee Workforce program, which is a student talent development program for junior and senior year students. The CREW programs allows students to gain national security experience and a security clearance.
“We’re looking for opportunities for research with faculty and also looking at potential joint appointments,” Sanchez said. “We’re trying to bring in different faculty researchers, so they are not afraid to walk across the street and have conversations with us.”
While PSL was established in response to the nation’s space and rocket programs, the current focus includes electronic warfare, counter measures, cyber, telemetry and missile systems, aerospace and scientific ballooning. Additionally, PSL operates an FAA-approved Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test Site at the Las Cruces Airport.
Sanchez said PSL also works with local organizations such as the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance and Las Cruces Economic Development Department to boost business development opportunities in the region.
“We work closely with both of those organizations. We have unique capabilities here at PSL. We also have a facility that we can do classified work in. We have space to be able to do some pretty innovative things,” Sanchez said. “They also help us and help connect the dots.”
Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU
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