August 24, 2020

NM Delegation Applauds Space Exploration Grants to UNM, NMSU, Navajo Technical College

Funds for fellowships will support STEM opportunities for minority students, space exploration programs

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) applaud nearly $2.3 million in combined awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to New Mexico universities for fellowships supporting minority and underrepresented students in STEM fields and innovative research for space exploration programs.  

New Mexico State University (NMSU) and the University of New Mexico (UNM) have received funding through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project to establish a fellowship supporting minority students in STEM fields. NMSU and Navajo Technical University also received research grants for space technology research.

“New Mexico is at the forefront of a new space economy, and it is vital that all students have access to opportunities to contribute to our country’s space exploration and discovery,” said Udall. “We all benefit when students from different backgrounds come together to solve problems, and I am proud that NASA has recognized New Mexico’s great research institutions. I look forward to seeing the work that student fellows produce to increase innovation and move our space capabilities forward.”

“The stars shine bright over New Mexico and our opportunities to explore them should be just as strong,” said Heinrich. “With more STEM programs available to minority and native students, we can expand New Mexico’s growing leadership in the space industry. We can create a space workforce truly representative of our state’s rich and diverse population. I am excited to welcome this funding from NASA and look forward to launching new space and STEM careers across the state.”

“For New Mexico to remain a leader in innovation and ingenuity, we need to tap into the potential of all of our aspiring minds. These NASA grants will support minority students across New Mexico to pursue opportunities in the STEM and space exploration fields,” said Luján. “I am excited to see how this critical funding supports our students and keeps New Mexico at the forefront of innovation and discovery.”

“Students and young people in New Mexico are the future of our great state but the cost of college is a barrier that keeps students from pursuing their dreams and staying in New Mexico to serve our communities. As someone who is still paying my student loans, I know these federal scholarship grants will open the doors of opportunity for students to pursue careers in STEM fields right here in New Mexico,” said Haaland. 

“Our state is home to a thriving space industry that continues to push the boundaries of exploration. This grant award is a testament to NMSU, UNM, and Navajo Technical College’s continued leadership and innovation in the field, and this investment will open the door for students across the district to follow suit. I will continue to work with our industry leaders to provide federal support and look forward to seeing these programs grow,” said Torres Small. 

The combined $2,288,000 in grant funding has been awarded as follows:

NASA Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Awards

- New Mexico State University, $165,000 over 3 years

- University of New Mexico, $165,000 over 3 years

Cooperative Agreements for Research and Development Programs

NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program supports science and technology research and development at colleges and universities in areas, such as remote sensing, artificial intelligence, astrophysics and aeronautics. All of these are applicable to NASA’s work in Earth science, aeronautics, and human and robotic deep space exploration. Results from the research will be given back to NASA where it may be used as part of ongoing agency work

- New Mexico State University received $750,000 for its project, Next Generation Additive Manufacturing for Space Applications. The project focuses on the development of a methodology for quality control and optimization of processing parameters for Additive Manufacturing (AM)—developing the capability of 3D printing in space for industrial uses. The project is supported by NASA Johnson Space Center, Ames Research Center and White Sands Test Facility and brings together NMSU, New Mexico Tech, UNM, and Navajo Technical University. 

Planning Grants to Universities to Support Space Technology Opportunities

NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Space Technology Artemis Research, or M-STAR, has awarded cooperative agreements to 15 universities for 16 projects that will support NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s advancement of technologies needed for the agency’s Artemis program. NASA’s Artemis program aims to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024

- New Mexico State University, in partnership with San Diego State University, received $604,000 for the project MUREP Advancing Regolith-Related Technologies and Education (MARRTE).

- Navajo Technical University received $604,000 for the project Micro-Gravity Additive Manufacturing of Metals to strengthen the university’s research capacities with a focus on in-space manufacturing.