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Home | Tag Archives: NMSU (page 3)

Tag Archives: NMSU

NMSU climate change series to focus on statewide strategies in panel discussion

According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, average annual temperature across the Southwest United States increased 1.6 degrees between 1901 and 2016, and further increases are forecast for the future.

The second event this semester in the New Mexico State University Climate Change Education Seminar Series (NMSUCCESS) is a panel discussion: “New Mexico at the Crossroads: How the State, its Biggest City, and NMSU are Addressing Climate Change.” The discussion will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

Panelists include Sarah Cottrell Propst, Cabinet Secretary for New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department; Kelsey Rader, the City of Albuquerque’s Sustainability Officer; and NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu, former Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“People worldwide have a shrinking amount of time to head off the worst effects of climate change, and this panel discussion will provide insights into the steps that state government and local leaders are taking to meet this challenge,” said Gary Roemer, NMSU Professor of Wildlife Ecology, and one of the series organizers.

Propst is expected to discuss a statewide climate strategy produced by a task force that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham assigned her to co-chair in late January.

“We know all too well states cannot rely on the federal government right now to act responsibly and take the bold action scientists have made clear is needed to prevent calamitous climate change fallout in our lifetimes. It’s up to us,” said Lujan Grisham when announcing the formation of the task force.

Albuquerque was one of 25 cities accepted into a two-year acceleration program to support the city’s effort to dramatically shrink its overall carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices. Rader, the city’s first-ever sustainability officer, will discuss steps Albuquerque is taking to achieve 100 percent use of renewable resources by city operations by 2022, make energy-efficient retrofits of municipal facilities, and shift its light-duty fleet to electric vehicles.

Arvizu will discuss plans, such as NMSU’s partnership with El Paso Electric to establish a three- megawatt solar array on the south side of the main campus that will provide research and educational opportunities in addition to generating renewable energy.

NMSUCCESS will continue the series of climate change talks, which began last year, through the fall and into spring 2020. Future topics will include geo-engineering, mass extinction threats, national and global security concerns and public health impacts.

The series’ goal is to shine light on research and issues related to climate change for a local audience.

Author: Amanda Adame – NMSU

NMSU researcher launches study on strategically-timed tillage

Can strategically-timed tillage improve the efficiency of no-till farming in the semiarid region?

That’s a question one researcher from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University is hoping to answer with a new study.

Rajan Ghimire, an agronomist and assistant professor based at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center in Clovis, initiated the study after hearing farmers express concerns about continuous no-tillage cropping.

“Farmers are asking: How much damage is done by occasional tillage in continuously no-tilled plots? Is there any room for mixing residue and soils, or any other benefit of strategically-timed tillage in the continuous no-tillage system?” Ghimire said. “To address these questions, we established a study at our long-term tillage demonstration sites.”

Ghimire launched the study, funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in September as a part of ongoing, long-term research comparing conventional tillage, strip-tillage and no-tillage systems.

Conventional tillage is common in eastern New Mexico and involves four to six passes of the moldboard plow, disk plow and cultivator/ripper, which, according to Ghimire, prepares a good seedbed for crops, but has several disadvantages.

He said repeated tillage damages soil structure, causes rapid mineralization and soil erosion by both wind and water, and loss of soil organic matter and nutrients.

In contrast, no-tillage cropping adopted in arid and semiarid regions, including New Mexico, offers many benefits, Ghimire said, such as reducing soil erosion and increasing infiltration, soil organic matter storage and soil water conservation. It also reduces labor and machinery, increasing the economic efficiency of farming.

But no-tillage farming also has its challenges, he said.

Dryland farmers in semiarid regions question the long-term sustainability of such a system because it increases dependence on herbicide for weed control. It also can result in the build-up of herbicide-resistant weed populations, the incidence of soil and stubble-borne diseases, and stratification of nutrients and organic matter in the topsoil. Farmers also experience difficulty due to compaction.

“In this new study,” Ghimire said, “we proposed strategically-managed minimum tillage of continuous no-till plots to maximize the agronomic and ecological benefits by harnessing positive aspects of both tilled and no-tilled systems.”

In early September, Ghimire introduced stubble-mulch tillage to a demonstration plot. It was the first tillage on the site since 2013.

“We collected baseline soil data before tillage,” he said, “and we will continue to monitor changes in soil processes for several months after tillage.”

Ghimire will simultaneously monitor the long-term and no-tilled plots, as well as the adjacent conventional-tilled and strip-tilled plots. He plans to till the latter two plots every year and will wait four years to till the strategic-tillage plots. And, he will maintain the no-tillage plots with no disturbance for much of the study’s duration.

“We will be evaluating how changes occur in soil organic carbon, nutrient pools and dynamics; crop residue decomposition; microbial community composition; soil structure; and overall soil health and resilience,” he said, adding that he will collect samples at tillage-depth and below tillage-depth. “It is also crucial to understand long-term soil carbon sequestration and its relationship with crop yield and productivity.”

Ghimire will introduce another tillage treatment in the two no-tillage plots in 2021, after eight years of no-tillage, he said.

“We are excited to know how strategically-timed minimum tillage in the continuous no-tilled system will affect soil properties and long-term sustainability of dryland farming in eastern New Mexico, and semiarid Southwest,” Ghimire said.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU

NSF awards NMSU $5 million for Phase II of smart grid research

The National Science Foundation recently awarded New Mexico State University a second $5 million dollar grant to fund Phase II of collaborative smart grid research. The grant will help researchers build on success of the program over the past five years, which resulted in publication of 450 peer-reviewed papers.

The award through the NSF’s Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) seeks to strengthen and improve the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of the electric energy grid by addressing infrastructure challenges, security issues and working to create a highly trained and flexible workforce to support the future of the industry.

“The first phase was really focused on smart grids,” said Enrico Pontelli, principal investigator of the project and NMSU’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “In the second phase we’ll see if we can take what we’re learning with smart grids and apply it to other problems. A lot of the problems we are addressing also can apply to other types of infrastructure.”

Pontelli’s vision for the center cuts across disciplines while offering students a course of study with a path to high-demand careers. NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu points to this second large NSF award for the center as recognition of NMSU’s leadership in this area.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to continue this groundbreaking work in smart grid research,” Arvizu said. “Elevating all of NMSU’s research and creativity efforts, particularly when it comes to modernizing critical infrastructure, is an important component to our new strategic plan. We’re fortunate to have someone like Enrico Pontelli to lead this project.”

NMSU established the NSF-funded Interdisciplinary Center of Research Excellence in Design of Intelligent Technologies for Smart Grids (iCREDITS) in 2014 as a collaborative effort bringing together researchers in electrical engineering, computer science, mathematics, management and education.

“The NSF grant for the CREST center (iCREDITS) has as its goal to pursue basic research to create the electric distribution grid of tomorrow,” said Satishkumar Ranade, co-principal investigator and electrical engineering professor. “At the same time we provide K-12 outreach, opportunities for advanced degrees and new tools and techniques for industry.”

“Phase one was so successful in that we converted the research that the wonderful NMSU professors were doing into age appropriate lessons that we used in our out-of-school time programs,” said Susan Brown, interim dean of the College of Education. “We look forward to our collaboration in Phase II.”

The next phase of the iCREDITS research over the coming five years will focus on three areas: modeling, operation and integration; security and resilience frameworks; and data-driven decision-making.

The Modeling, Operation and Integration group will address ways to allow the customers to more easily communicate with the their electrical systems to ensure their needs are met in a sustainable way.

“Given abundant solar energy, the ability to store it in batteries and other media, electrical appliances, industrial processes, electric cars that can ‘think,’ how do we best use this energy,” Ranade said. “Conventional wisdom that we should wash clothes at night when electricity might be cheaper changes to have your smart washer run when the ‘sun shines’ and store what you can’t use.

“Our research looks at how best we can manage our resources while ensuring safety, reliability and providing access to all. In addition to reliability, today, we also think of resilience in a weather event or cyber-attack, can we provide service to small pockets while working towards restoring power to everybody as quickly as possible?”

Computer science associate professor Jay Misra is the co-principal investigator leading the Security and Resilience Frameworks aspect of the project. His part of the team will direct three areas: designing an overarching cyber security framework; investigating mechanisms to safeguard the system against failure and studying hardware-based security, namely mutual device authentication based on strong physically unclonable functions.

“We will help create a team of three to four graduate students, two undergraduate students and a post doctoral fellow to work on various aspects of the research,” said Misra. ” In this thrust we are studying the security and privacy threats in customer-driven distribution feeder microgrids from the perspective of hardware, software and future advancements (e.g., quantum computers).”

Hulping Cao, computer science associate professor, and Son Tran, computer science department head are heading up the Data-Driven Decision-Making part of the project, to strengthen the interaction between the customer and their electricity supply operations to optimize efficiency and effectiveness.

“Our research thrust will implement the data-information-knowledge-decision flow to support coarse grained operation and control of the customer-centric distribution microgrids, optimizing for resilience and enabling user-centered (e.g., user preferences) and transactive (e.g., electricity as a commodity) behavior,” Cao said.

Pontelli and Renade both emphasize the collaborative nature of the center’s research, which exposes NMSU students to a broad range of ideas and unleash their potential.

“The field is changing very fast. The traditional career doesn’t exist anymore,” Pontelli said. “Problem solvers are what we need and diversity, having different kinds of thinkers. We must create learning environments where our students learn to leverage diversity, efficiency and flexibility. It’s not so much a specific knowledge component, but we need to train learners, people who know how to learn. What our students will need in the future are the skills to quickly adapt to change.

“This new NSF CREST award and Phase II of iCREDITS will take us to the next level. NMSU is striving to be a leader of this effort in the state.”

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

Aggie Shark Tank gearing up to showcase, launch new businesses

The fifth annual Aggie Shark Tank, sponsored by the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship and hosted by Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University, will be held on Thursday, October 3 at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, 1000 East University Avenue in Las Cruces.

The event allows NMSU student and alumni entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to local and national “sharks” for the chance to gain investment or other types of assistance to help their business grow.

“We’re grateful that there are leaders in business who are willing to share not only their financial investment in our students and alumni, but also crucial advice and connections from their years of experience,” said Carlos Murguia, Arrowhead Center’s Shark Tank manager.

Sisbarro appreciates seeing the new ideas that come out of students and alumni.

“Aggie Shark Tank is one of my favorite things to be involved with,” said Sisbarro. “Since its creation we’ve seen the program grow and the students’ new business ideas really grow and expand. It’s exciting to be a part of it and I look forward to this year’s Shark Tank experience.”

Aggie Shark Tank is open to the public from 4-6:30 p.m. with a reception to follow. Sharks are local investors and nationwide venture capitalists eager to see new businesses, and include Beto Pallares, fund manager of Arrowhead Innovation Fund; Samara Mejia Hernandez, founding partner of Chingona Ventures; Lou Sisbarro, cofounder of Sisbarro Dealerships; and Jason Torres, a healthcare angel investor.

While the audience is not solicited for investment of any kind, it’s a great way to watch and learn about new developments coming from student and alumni startup businesses, and join participants at the reception. Get your free tickets today by registering online.

Learn more about the program by visiting the website. For more information, contact Carlos Murguia at or 575-646-2025.

Author: Cassie McClure – NMSU

NMSU stabilizes enrollment, posts increase in system headcount

The New Mexico State University system has posted an increase in overall student enrollment numbers – the first such increase since 2010.

“We are very pleased with these topline results, and it clearly shows NMSU has stabilized enrollment and is poised for sustained growth,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “It’s exciting to see so many students and their parents responding to NMSU’s strong appeal. In conversations with new students we consistently hear that they come here because they want a top-tier education with a highly diverse student body at one of the lowest costs in the nation. It’s a great time to be an NMSU Aggie.”

For fall 2019, the NMSU system’s unduplicated headcount was 24,041. NMSU’s Las Cruces campus had a total student headcount of 14,298 up from 2018. In addition, enrollment for NMSU’s Graduate School was also up, reversing a multiple year decline. Notably, NMSU’s community college enrollment also saw year-over-year increases particularly on the Doña Ana and Carlsbad campuses.

In the coming weeks, the university plans to continue analyzing enrollment data, particularly as it relates to student retention, diversity and social mobility.

“No single action made the difference. Instead, many small actions taken by so many people across our campuses to advance our student success goal is the story here,” said NMSU President John Floros. “That’s why it’s important for us to continue to monitor key metrics that drive performance in student success as part of our NMSU LEADS 2025 strategic plan.”

NMSU LEADS 2025 outlines student success and social mobility as its first goal. Objectives for this goal include diversifying, optimizing and increasing system-wide enrollment. Increasing student learning, retention and degree attainment are also priorities. Another key goal is ensuring that the university is fiscally responsible while keeping costs affordable for students.

The NMSU system includes its campuses in Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Grants and around Doña Ana County.

Author: Justin Bannister – NMSU

Magazine: NMSU ranks as national top tier university

According to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2020 National Universities rankings, New Mexico State University has been recognized as a top tier university for the seventh time in the last eight years.

“Although it’s great to be recognized as a top tier institution, our goal is to become one of the best in the country when it comes to student success and social mobility, research and creativity, and community engagement,” said NMSU President John Floros. “The implementation of our new strategic plan, NMSU LEADS 2025, will assure that we improve in all these categories in the years ahead.”

This year, NMSU is tied for 263 with Old Dominion University, University of Alabama-Huntsville and others. NMSU ranks 134 in top public schools, tied for 134 in undergraduate engineering programs and tied for 195 in undergraduate business programs.

Additionally, NMSU ranks tied for 119 for top performers on social mobility, a new category, and 189 in ethnic diversity.

The methodology for the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings is based on outcomes (35 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), expert opinion (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), student excellence (10 percent) and alumni giving (five percent).

In the August issue of The Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine, NMSU was recognized on the Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics list. NMSU ranked 48th in both total enrollment for four-year schools and total graduate degrees granted, master’s and doctoral degrees, using data from the Department of Education (2017).

Additionally, the 2019-2020 Center for World University Rankings rated NMSU in the top four percent of institutions of higher education worldwide. With 20,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education worldwide evaluated, this year NMSU ranked 783rd overall and earned a national rank of 187th.

For a complete list of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, along with the methodology, visit their website.

Author – 

NMSU hosts visit from Sandia National Laboratories officials, opens new office space at PSL

After an official agreement was signed in April, the collaboration between New Mexico State University and Sandia National Laboratories has proceeded with the opening of a facility at NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory in Anderson Hall.

Officials from Sandia visited NMSU Aug. 27. They met with university leadership and toured the new space, which includes room for a manager and six students. The NMSU and Sandia partnership was formed to develop learning opportunities and coordinate education and research.

The new space will allow Sandia staff to work on NMSU’s campus as well as hire NMSU students as interns or externs.

“One of the elements that will help us take a new trajectory for PSL is the partnerships with strategic partners like Sandia National Labs,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “We could not be more pleased that Dr. (Stephen) Younger and his team have agreed to engage with us in a strategic relationship.”

“Our country is facing some significant national security challenges, and we are going to meet those challenges by out-innovating our adversaries,” said Younger, labs director at Sandia. “When you look at the world, it’s evolving in a way that we need the most diverse set of approaches to our problems that we can find. We’re blessed in this state to have a very diverse population, and this university represents that diverse population. I think NMSU and our other schools in the state of New Mexico represent strategic assets for our nation in helping defend us in the coming years. That’s why we are here, to tap into that diversity, to tap into that creativity.”

In addition to national security issues, the partnership will allow NMSU and Sandia to pursue opportunities of mutual interest such as discovery science, water research, cybersecurity and sustainability.


NMSU featured on Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics

In the August issue of The Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine, New Mexico State University has been recognized on the Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics list.

NMSU ranked 48th in both total enrollment for four-year schools and total graduate degrees granted, master’s and doctoral degrees, using data from the Department of Education (2017).

In 1989, NMSU was officially designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and at that time at least 25 percent of undergraduate full-time students were Hispanic. As of fall 2018, 57 percent of the undergraduate full-time students at the Las Cruces campus are Hispanic.

Earlier this month, the 2019-2020 Center for World University Rankings rated NMSU in the top four percent of institutions of higher education worldwide.

With 20,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education worldwide evaluated, this year NMSU ranked 783rd overall and earned a national rank of 187th.

To view the Top 100 edition of Hispanic Outlook click here.

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU, University of Washington students learn community health first-hand in rural NM

Riding in the passenger seat of a pickup truck, Shoko Espinoza braced as the truck hit another pothole and she knocked her head against the window. They were not traveling far, only about a mile, but on the unpaved roads of Sawmill, AZ, even that short trip can take a toll.

Espinoza was shadowing Patriva Benally, a community health representative in the Navajo Nation, as she traveled to more remote parts of the reservation to meet with individuals in their home, take vital signs and offer healthcare assistance.

Espinoza, a nursing student at the University of Washington in Seattle, was one of seven students from UW and New Mexico State University to shadow Navajo community health representatives as part of the Health Disparities Field Experience (HDFE) – an immersive two-week exploration of health in communities in the U.S. Southwest.

This summer was the first annual Health Disparities Field Experience sponsored by the Partnership for the Advancement of Cancer Research, a federally funded partnership between NMSU and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The partnership, which began in 2002, received a $5.8 million grant renewal earlier this year from the National Cancer Institute to continue its efforts to bridge cancer health disparities in underserved communities.

University of Washington students Eva Torres (front) and Shoko Espinoza (back) pause for a selfie at the border of Anthony, TX. The students took part in a two-week Health Disparities Field Experience to learn about health challenges in the U.S. Southwest. | NMSU photo by Kaitlin Englund

As they continued the trek to the client’s home, Benally told Espinoza about the challenges many residents in the remote parts of the community face, such as limited incomes, no running water, no electricity and limited access to transportation. Because of these barriers, many of the residents rely on these health workers not only for regular medical checkups, but also often for grocery delivery and help making their homes a safer environment.

For Espinoza, shadowing Benally brought to life the realities of health disparities in different communities.

“[In class] we talk about social determinants of health but when you actually see it, it’s like, ‘Whoa. OK;’” said Espinoza. “All of those bumpy roads up to the patient’s house – you don’t get to feel that unless you’re there. So as a nursing student, it’s like, “OK, this isn’t just a talk. This is actually an experience that the patients go through or that the health workers go through every day.

“To me, that was more valuable than just sitting in the classroom, just talking about theories.”

Ernesto Moralez, an assistant professor of public health sciences at NMSU and the HDFE coordinator, said the one-on-one experiences with the community are the driving force behind the program.

“The goal of the HDFE is to expose students to unique perspectives in healthcare and see the health disparities impacting different communities in the U.S. – Mexico Border Region and southwestern tribal nations,” said Moralez. “I don’t think it’s as common as we would like it to be to see students and the community in the same space, talking about issues and sharing stories and solutions.”

The students taking part in the program started in Las Cruces and traveled to nearly a dozen different communities mostly in New Mexico, but also in Arizona and west Texas. New Mexico visits included Chaparral, Vado, Anapra, Sunland Park, Grants, Farmington, Shiprock and Anthony. The Texas side of Anthony was also included along with San Elizario, which is east of El Paso. In Arizona, students joined health representatives in Window Rock.

In addition to shadowing community health representatives, students also toured local clinics and shelters, visited community centers, attended health trainings at the New Mexico Department of Health, engaged with public health professionals and medical providers, and spent time with community members as they shared their personal experiences of the differences in the quality of health and healthcare in their area.

“It was a rare and special opportunity because it was focused on disparities in health,” said Debbie Higgs, an NMSU graduate student studying public health. “That’s something in my studies that I’m thinking about all the time, and in my work [as a victims’ advocate] that I’m involved in all the time; but I’ve never gathered with a group of people before where that’s the purpose of our being together.”

“It’s a unique experience because students get to travel more than 400 miles and see the commonalities among different cultures,” said Moralez. “But they also get to see what’s special and unique about each community, both what is adverse to health outcomes and what is beneficial.”

Angie Sanchez Corral, the community development coordinator with the NMDOH Office of Border Health said that opportunities like the HDFE are valuable not only for the students as a learning opportunity, but for the future of the community.

“The students were able to see the need in person and network with community members,” said Sanchez Corral. “It’s beneficial because the students are our new generation. They are going to work on addressing the issues identified by the community.”

For many of the students, this experience not only gave them a better understanding of how health disparities impact different communities but ignited their passion for being advocates and working for those underrepresented communities.

University of Washington student Arianne Sandel eyes the expanse of the U.S. – Mexico border wall in El Paso, TX. Sandel was one of seven students from UW and New Mexico State University to travel throughout New Mexico, Texas and Arizona as part of the Health Disparities Field Experience. | NMSU photo by Kaitlin Englund

“There are so many things that I think will stay with me,” said Marissa Jackson, a recent UW graduate from the public health program. “You really can’t unhear peoples’ stories and experiences.”

“I realized that the world is just so big – as cheesy as that sounds – and public health is so big, and disparities are so big, and I think I owe it to myself to explore that even more,” said Arianne Sandel, a graduate student at UW studying public health.

“This really inspired me to just go out there and do things that are out of my comfort zone. You meet people along the way who are in it with you and who think the same as you and share your passions. It’s been an irreplaceable experience.”

Author: Kaitlin Englund – NMSU

NMSU alumni help bring Summer Jam concert to Las Cruces

In June, New Mexico State University announced the Summer Jam at the Pan Am concert starring a line-up with three world touring high-caliber artists. Tyga, DJ Mustard and A-trak will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23 at the Pan American Center

The Pan Am has hosted several high-profile country artists over the last few years including Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Thomas Rhett and Chris Young. A desire for a hip hop and rap lineup of the same caliber inspired two 2018 NMSU alumni known as “Team Naray” to return and give back to their alma mater.

Torbyn Nare, “Naray” was the university’s official DJ as an undergraduate for athletics, tailgates, parties and student organizations, and Jonah Kennon put on shows for the students at NMSU.

After years of hard work and envisioning more for New Mexico, they wanted to do a first-rate show for NMSU students and the surrounding community.

“We believe this concert will begin to solidify Las Cruces as an entertainment hub and, will show the rest of the country the potential we know our state, city and school has,” said Team Naray. “We plan for ‘Summer Jam at the Pan Am’ to be the event everyone looks back on as the turning point that brought our region the recognition it deserves. We whole-heartedly believe this will be one of the biggest and most unique events of the year for the students. We are providing an event experience that has never been offered before.”

Team Naray, who are serving as consultants, along with Sight & Sound Events, a New Mexico production company, are helping to coordinate logistics of the event. Additionally, “Naray” will play a set during the concert.

Nare and Kennon have been involved with every aspect of the event except for stage production. Their primary role is to bring the creative vision for Summer Jam to life. This includes lineups, marketing, media, contracting, budgeting, consulting, advertising, outreach, creative placement and performance.

“Its success would provide more opportunities for this music genre to occur more often in the Pan Am in the future,” said Scott Breckner, Pan Am Special Events coordinator.

“This is a brand-new approach to entertainment in the state and bridging the gap between NMSU and the community,” said Team Naray.

For more information about the concert or to purchase tickets, visit the Summer Jam website.

Author: Faith Schifani – NMSU

NMSU alumni extend long-time support of Aggie baseball by funding new training facility

When Aggie baseball players start the 2020 season, they will have a new facility to help them hone their skills thanks to long-time donors and loyal Aggie fans, Mike and Judy Johnson, who have pledged $900,000 to build a new training facility for the NMSU baseball program.

Aggie players will prepare for next season in the new 4,500 square foot facility, located adjacent to the team dugout along the third base line. Housing three designated hitting locations, along with two dual use batting and pitching areas, the facility will enable more players to practice specific skills at the same time.

While consistent sunshine often makes Las Cruces an ideal climate for baseball, late season temperatures in April and May can limit outdoor practices. The facility’s open air design, including exterior screen walls, a standing seam roof and protected ceiling fans, was crafted by national architecture firm HOK to enable sustained seasonal practices for Aggie athletes despite rising spring temperatures.

In recent years Aggie baseball players and fans benefitted from other projects funded by Mike and Judy, including extensive stadium renovations to Presley Askew Field completed with a $1.4 million gift from the couple in 2013.

The funding for the new training facility is an extension of Mike and Judy’s love for NMSU baseball, and part of a larger goal to assist the

07/27/06: The Johnson Family (from left): Matt, Mike, Judy and Jaki. (photo by Darren Phillips)

Aggies in becoming a top 25 program in the NCAA with a high quality stadium that can host a regional NCAA tournament.

“We want to make sure the baseball team is taken care of,” Mike explains, “and to be competitive, you not only have to have talented players, you need a place where they can play and improve, where their hard work meets opportunity.”

The Johnsons’ generosity has already shaped the program’s progress in recent years, according to NMSU Director of Athletics, Mario

Moccia. “With Mike and Judy’s original and continued investment in the stadium, our Aggie baseball program has rocketed to success,” says Moccia.

Some recent team successes include a rise from 11 wins in 2015 to four consecutive years with 35 plus victories, a 2018 Western Athletic Conference Tournament title, a NCAA Regional appearance in 2018 and a regular season title in 2019.

Improved facilities often increase the success of college programs. State-of-the-art facilities enhance player skill and preparation, and also play a role in attracting recruits.

“The new training facility will be a tremendous addition to the Aggie baseball program, and another major step in creating one of the premier college baseball stadium complexes in the southwest,” an aspect Moccia says will help in recruitment efforts around the southwest region, where many Aggie players come from.

NMSU Foundation Vice President, Dr. Tina Byford, praised the Johnsons and highlighted their continued support of NMSU. “Long-time supporters of NMSU in many capacities, Mike and Judy’s financial generosity is matched by their service. We are grateful for this exceptional gift to the baseball program and express our sincere thanks for their commitment to NMSU students.”

Mike and Judy’s sustained philanthropy towards NMSU extends to the academic arena as well. The Johnsons established the Michael L. Johnson Endowed Chair in the Department of Geological Sciences, the Daisy Gray Endowed Scholarship for students majoring in Education and the Lionel Haight Endowed Chair in Accounting, among others.

Service has also been a significant part of Mike and Judy’s history with the university. Judy recently joined the NMSU Foundation board and also served as a board member on the College of Education’s Board of Advocates and NMSU’s College of Business Advisory Council. Mike served as an NMSU Foundation board member for many years, including in the role of chairman.


ining facility planned for Aggie baseball players to use next season. (Courtesy HOK Architect)

NMSU’s PSL conducts unmanned aircraft systems detect and avoid tests for FAA

With increased popularity and usage of unmanned aerial systems, commonly referred to as drones, keeping the skies safe is critical. New Mexico State University is part of a team conducting testing to help the Federal Aviation Administration achieve that goal.

As one of the seven FAA-approved Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Sites, NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory hosted three days of flight testing, July 16-18, for an FAA project, “Task A18: Small UAS Detect and Avoid Requirements Necessary for Limited Beyond Visual Line of Sight Operations: Separation Requirements and Testing” at the Jornada Experimental Range, north of Las Cruces.

“All of this testing is about safety,” said Henry Cathey, NMSU PSL research and development engineering manager. “Flight safety is number one. We want to make sure that folks, who are in aircraft, can fly safety with UAS or drones in the air.”

The flight testing involved various flying encounter scenarios between UAS and manned aircraft to determine if the UAS could detect the aircraft and respond with a maneuver to avoid it. An AI-based autonomous collision avoidance system from Iris Automation called Casia was used on the UAS to help it see the world as a pilot does.

Two types of UAS, a multi-rotor and a fixed wing, with the Iris system onboard, and two manned, NMSU vehicles, the CTLS Light Sport

Flight testing conducted at New Mexico State University for the Federal Aviation Administration in July consisted of using unmanned aerial systems and manned aircraft. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

aircraft and Spyder Ultralight aircraft, which posed as the intruder aircraft, were used in the flight testing.

Considerations for encounter scenarios included safe separation distances between vehicles of at least 100 feet in lateral separation and 250 feet in vertical separation. The vehicles conducted tests at different encounter angles and cross patterns. Flights were conducted at two altitudes: 100 feet for the UAS and 500 feet for the manned along with 400 feet for the UAS and 650 feet for the manned. The testing assessed when the Iris system was triggered and its limits.

Cathey said the next step includes collecting the data and post processing the information, which will take weeks. Flight information on both the UAS and manned vehicles was collected, and the research team will plot together the information to show the encounters.

“At that point we will be able to help map this particular system to give the FAA an idea of what this technology is capable of,” he said.

“We have several more flight test events before we actually come up with a comprehensive plan, but we are using each flight test event to further expand the data we need to collect and how the operations need to run,” said Bill Oehlschlager, FAA UAS technical project lead. “We are using each incremental step to collect more data and make it safer for when we actually do this testing.”

Iris Automation CEO and co-founder Alexander Harmsen, who attended the flight testing, said he was pleased how his system responded.

Joe Millette, New Mexico State University unmanned aerial systems pilot, and Cheryl Contreras, Iris Automation deputy head of flight operations, manage flight operations during detect and avoid technology flight testing NMSU hosted in July for the Federal Aviation Administration. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

“The system is doing everything we expect it to do,” he said. “We’re having these encounters. The system, it detects the aircraft, it tracks it and classifies it. It is able to tell the difference between a drone, a helicopter, a small, fixed-wing aircraft and a cloud or a bird.”

As one of 15 core universities for the FAA UAS Center of Excellence, NMSU is also working with the University of North Dakota, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kansas State University and Mississippi State University on the research project. NMSU, UND and UAF are each hosting flight testing on detect and avoid solutions.

Officials present for the testing included NMSU personnel, FAA sponsors, FAA technical leads, FAA interns, Iris Automation flight personnel, industry representatives, UND and UAF personnel.

Testing on other technology solutions such as ground-based, visual/optical systems, radar and acoustic is also planned, and NMSU is slated to host additional flight testing.

“We are trying to help push those technology solutions forward. There are going to be lots and lots more vehicles in the air in the coming years and we want it to be done safely,” Cathey said.


Marriott Foundation invests $400K into NMSU’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

As the New Mexico hospitality industry grows, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation believes the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at New Mexico State University is ready to meet the industry’s increasing employment demand. That’s why the organization agreed to invest $400,000 into the program over the next four years.

The gift made to the NMSU Foundation in support of the School of HRTM, which is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, will create a “Hospitality Futures Center” to foster hospitality career exploration and promote the importance of hospitality education to broaden career paths in the changing industry.

“The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will have a unique and significant impact on hospitality education, specifically in the Southwest, because they are investing in the only program in the state that offers a bachelor of science in HRTM,” said Tina Byford, interim vice president of University Advancement. “If we want to meet the employment demand in our state, it is critical that more students learn about the industry, NMSU and the School of HRTM. We’re grateful that The Marriott Family Foundation is making this priority at NMSU one of its own.”

According to New Mexico Workforce Connection’s “2018 State of the Workforce Report,” the state’s Foodservice and Accommodations industry – the third largest in New Mexico – is expected to grow at a rate of 15.3%, adding 13,000 jobs by 2024.

“We know the hospitality industry in New Mexico is growing and provides young people with limitless career opportunities,” said Mieka Wick, executive director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “Supporting the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management in this way gives NMSU the tools it needs to educate students about the industry, increase enrollment and develop the next generation of hospitality leaders for New Mexico and globally.”

Part of the funding will refine existing recruitment, outreach and professional development programs and design new hospitality career workshops targeted toward high school students, teachers, guidance counselors and community college students. Efforts will be led by the HRTM program coordinator and a grant-funded assistant.

Additional funding will renovate current office spaces to become the Hospitality Futures Center, which will be a designated area for students to research work and careers, hold meetings, receive career counseling and take part in interviews with industry representatives for internships and employment.

“The Hospitality Futures Center will create new opportunities for us to consolidate, refine and amplify what we already do while introducing new initiatives to continue growing our outreach efforts,” said Jean Hertzman, director of NMSU’s School of HRTM. “Our alumni and industry partner network will be an essential part of communicating the benefits of pursuing lifetime hospitality careers. Our students are immediately prepared to take on supervisory positions and transition to higher levels of management and entrepreneurial ventures across the state and beyond. With The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation’s help, we will be able to recruit and graduate even more of these talented students.”

To honor this support, the program and associated office space will be named the “Marriott Hospitality Futures Center,” pending approval by the University Naming Committee and other appropriate parties.

Author: Angel Mendez – NMSU

NMSU ranks in top 25 for enrolling, graduating women in computer science

Angela Kearns is a New Mexico State University senior graduating with a degree in computer science and mathematics. Last summer she interned at Nike, where she has a job waiting for her after she receives her diploma Saturday, May 11.

She is among the growing number of students who have helped NMSU to rank 22nd among four-year public universities in the United States (which includes more than 200 institutions) for enrolling and graduating women in computer science according to a recent data analysis compiled by ‘The Chronicle of Higher Education.’

“When I started college I was a declared math major, and I honestly knew nothing about computer science,” Kearns said. “Freshman year I enrolled in an introductory computer science course, and I fell in love.”

‘The Chronicle’ analyzes data on higher education to compare colleges on various measures and publishes its analysis in a weekly feature called ‘Chronicle Lists,’ put together by Ruth Hammond, a senior editor.

In January, the list titled ‘Which Colleges Are Best and Worst at Enrolling and Graduating Women in Computer Science and Engineering?’ identified NMSU among the 25 best. The data is from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Kearns is among the women that NMSU has attracted and retained to earn a degree in computer science. For many, a key program at NMSU has created an atmosphere of community that invited women in to what has long been considered a male-dominated course of study in the U.S.

Enrico Pontelli, dean of NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences and Regents professor in computer science, credits a program he spearheaded more than 12 years ago with boosting the number of women studying computer science at NMSU. The Young Women in Computing program, part of the National Science Foundation’s Broadening Participation in Computing Initiative, has directly impacted more than 13,000 students.

“The program has involved many faculty members, staff members, student researchers and school teachers,” Pontelli said. “We launched the program in 2006 as a response to the realization that our numbers of undergraduate women enrolled in computer science tanked to about eight percent.

“At that time, NSF had just initiated a new program, and I was able to secure a small supplement to pilot a summer camp for high school students. We were able to expand this pilot into a broader program, inclusive of both summer and academic year experiences. That funding provided us with the opportunity to explore a variety of approaches and learn what key elements make a difference. A second NSF grant, awarded in 2014, was instrumental to formalize the core principles that underlie our efforts.”

Now the percentage of women in computer science at NMSU is close to 24 percent.

For Kearns, the program made the difference in her choosing computer science over another course of study.

“Working with YWiC has helped me so much throughout college,” Kearns said. “It’s given me a support system and community within computer science. YWiC and the NMSU computer science department have greatly impacted my choice in careers by first introducing me to computer science and by providing me with the support to stay in computer science. YWiC and the YWiC coordinators have pushed me to achieve things that I couldn’t have even imagined.”

Catalina Sanchez-Maes was one of hundreds of fifth-grade girls impacted by her participation in an NMSU YWiC-sponsored summer camp.

“I learned that computer science has multiple applications from running software on the computer to more tangible outcomes. I also learned that it could be used in anything that interests me from making music to making a game,” said Sanchez-Maes. “I absolutely loved the hands-on learning that I experienced, which led me to continue on the path of computer science.”

Sanchez-Maes was one of the three NMSU students of 50 selected nationwide this spring to attend the Google Hispanic Student Leadership Summit in Austin, Texas, where she felt ‘connected, embraced and valued in the tech world.’

Pontelli points to several principles that have made YWiC a success. “The sense of belonging is critical, to defeat stereotypes and impostor syndrome,” he said. “But the support of parents, family members, community leaders and K-12 teachers is also important to encourage the pursuit of studies in computing. YWiC pursues outreach to gain early interest, through exposure to the excitement of computing as early as fifth grade, and follows up by sustaining the interest as students move through the grades, especially at the transition points of middle to high school and high school to college. Last but not least, technical preparation offered provides these young women with competence to feel at par, or superior, to male counterparts.”

Pontelli explained the practical reasoning behind encouraging more young women to get involved in computing.

“The field of computing is struggling to identify enough talent to meet the workforce demand. Right now we are missing half of the potential talent by not engaging women. Furthermore, there are many studies that show that diverse working teams are more efficient and produce more effective solutions and designs.”

Las Cruces native Elena Davidson is one of thousands of young women who entered NMSU’s computer science program through YWiC’s middle and high school pipeline. Davidson interned at Google in 2017, received the Computer Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions Scholar Award in October 2018 and was also one of three NMSU students selected to participate in Google’s Hispanic Student Leadership Summit.

“YWiC is the reason I am here today,” Davidson said. “I wouldn’t have considered computer science otherwise. I genuinely believed computer science was about guys hiding in their mother’s basement coding for 24-hours straight.”

A weeklong summer camp at NMSU changed her mind. “I remember walking out of that presentation with my project and saying to my mom, ‘This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ I’m graduating in May and none of this would be happening without YWiC.”

Davidson worked with YWiC throughout her college career — as a camp assistant, camp instructor and ultimately an undergraduate research assistant, providing mentorship and encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps.

“Success stories are fundamental,” Pontelli emphasized. “All our activities in the K-12 system are deployed by undergraduate female students, who serve as peer mentors and as role models to younger students.”

Natasha Nesiba and Esperanza Medina are among many success stories of recent NMSU computer science graduates. Nasiba is a software engineer at Google, who received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at NMSU in 2013 and 2015 and also served YWiC by mentoring students. Medina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2015 with a double major in mathematics and computer science.

Before graduation, Medina was offered a job at GoDaddy, where she is currently a software developer.

While the YWiC program helps get young women interested in computing, the NMSU computer science faculty is critical to support them through graduation.

“Dr. Karen Villaverde was my instructor and it was encouraging to see a female teaching the course,” Medina said. “It was the professors I encountered in the computer science department that really made a difference for me. I realized that a lot of the feelings I had been having were common. YWiC helped me research the gender gap and get a close look at the problem by allowing me to interact first hand with the youth of Las Cruces.

“From the research I did by first hand teaching in the YWiC summer camps, I witnessed countless intelligent young women that know the answers to your questions, but lack the confidence to speak the answers in a mixed gender class,” Medina said. “YWiC offers all-female summer camps that allow young women to build the confidence in themselves independent of the pressure of being in a mixed gender environment and prepares them with the knowledge to succeed when they do return to mixed classes.”

Gabriella Garcia, the third NMSU student to attend the recent Google Hispanic Leadership Summit, followed a different path to computer science at NMSU. Right after graduating high school in 2008, she entered NMSU to study engineering but was forced to drop out when her father lost his job and she had to help support her family. More than 10 years later, Garcia is back at NMSU after earning an associate degree at Dona Ana Community College. She is now earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science at NMSU and is applying for an internship at Google. Garcia also wants to work with YWiC to help mentor women in computer science and be a role model for them.

“I’m hoping through my story, because I have a different story, that they understand if you’re younger or older, it doesn’t matter ¬ anybody can do it,” Garcia said. “You can go to school any point in your life because no matter what, that time is going to pass whether your in school, whether you’re having kids or whatever. So if the time’s going to pass anyway, you can get your degree – it doesn’t matter if you’re 30, 40, 60, 80 years old. Do it whenever you get the chance. Just don’t lose your inspiration.”

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU signs agreement with Sandia National Laboratories; Creates educational, research opportunities

With the signing of a memorandum of understanding, New Mexico State University and Sandia National Laboratories have established a partnership to develop learning opportunities and coordinate education and research for the next decade.

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and Sandia National Laboratories Associate Labs Director and Chief Research Officer Susan Seestrom signed the agreement April 10 in Albuquerque.

“I am happy for our two organizations to embark on a new era of cooperation and strategic partnerships,” Arvizu said. “This is an opportunity for us to work together to demonstrate that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. It is a very important concept for both academia and the research ability of our country’s national labs in general.”

Seestrom added Sandia’s collaboration with NMSU allows for more research to be conducted, which helps the government.

“It illustrates our commitment to partnership. I think this is going to continue to foster the kind of research that we are doing at Sandia Labs to ensure global peace and to help make New Mexico a stronger state,” she said.

This partnership is expected to allow for the sharing of specialized and unique research facilities and equipment. Inter-institutional collaborative arrangements of faculty, staff and students will include Sandia staff teaching and directing graduate students, while NMSU will offer professional development and job-related continuing education.

Additionally, this partnership will allow NMSU and Sandia to pursue opportunities of mutual interest in the areas of national security and the nation’s critical infrastructures such as water research, cyber security and sustainability.

Author: Tiffany Acosta, – NMSU

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