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New Mexico State University

New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation
College of Engineering

New Mexico AMP Reports and Publications

March 2010 - Currents

Institutional Coordinator Profile: Dr. David Torres, Asst. Professor of Mathematics and Director of Mathematics Dept. at Northern New Mexico College (NNMC), is Institutional Coordinator (IC) for New Mexico AMP, recently taking on the responsibility at NNMC to replace Dr. Ajit Hira. Dr. Hira has served faithfully as IC for New Mexico AMP for many years and will continue to assist Dr. Torres and serve as a faculty mentor to NNMC students. Dr. Torres has been teaching math at NNMC for a year and a half. He earned a B.S. degree in Mathematics and in Physics from New Mexico Tech, an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of New Mexico. His research interests are Computational Fluid Dynamics and Parallel Computing, with a focus on numerical algorithms and modeling fluids. He is currently involved in research through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant at NNMC entitled “Parallel Computing to Promote Research and Education Opportunities at NNMC.” David has four children, ages 9, 9, 11, and 13, and in his spare time, David coaches soccer. David was recently promoted to Director of the Math Department. We welcome Dr. Torres and look forward to many years of serving New Mexico’s students together!

Dr. Nader Vadiee, who heads up the recruitment and dissemination efforts of New Mexico AMP at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), has led an effort for ten freshmen engineering students. SIPI senior student mentors, two UNM graduate student mentors, and Mr. James Dunn, SIPI Renewable Energy Project Manager, helped Dr. Vadiee with the project. In this effort, students finished designing and building two “Wind Turbine Systems” projects and submitted two proposal entries to the National BIA-Argonne Renewable Energy Challenge competitions. Both projects were partially funded under the Dept. of Education Renewable Energy, Argonne National Laboratories, and National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grants. These projects have developed confidence, taught teambuilding, contributed to service learning, and helped these students to discover the relevance of math and science to solving technological and engineering problems.

Dr. Charlotte Otts, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences and Math at NMSU-Grants,NMSU-Carlsbad is heading up an important project for STEM students on the NMSU-Grants campus with Dr. Sharon Walsh, Asst. Professor of Biology, namely, the construction of a nature trail. Planned in conjunction with the Earth Day celebration that is organized each year by Dr. Joan Erben, the nature trail was started several years ago with the idea of providing a place for people to walk and appreciate nature. Planned also with the goal of providing students the opportunity to construct the trail themselves and to identify plants along the trail, the nature trail project is beginning to take shape as rocks have been moved to line the trail. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has even pitched in the effort to help establish addition routes the trail can take. As an incentive, some science courses provide extra credit for work on the trail, and this year, students taking Service Learning courses are involved. The Earth Day activities have also focused on an Earth Day Garden, dissemination of information on environmental concerns, and the opportunity for students to participate in an art project. For more information on the trail, contact Dr. Otts at

In the fall of 2008, NMSU-Carlsbad received a grant entitled “Stairway to STEM Success” that is focused on the development of two-year programs in pre-engineering, engineering technology, and formation/ communication technology. The grant is intended to interest students in STEM disciplines and help them to prepare for transfer. The benefits of the grant to STEM students are many. A new engineering classroom has been developed and is being used for ENGR 100 (Introduction to Engineering), and Engineering Technology classes, such as ET 184 (Applied AC Circuits). In addition, engineering software and laboratory equipment are being purchased, data acquisition equipment for chemistry and biology labs has been purchased and utilized, and the chemistry laboratory is being refurbished. Also, the physics lab is being updated, so that a 200-level physics classes can be offered in the future to students planning to transfer. Importantly, tutoring for math, chemistry, physics, and biology is also being provided

Martha Desmond, URA mentor and Professor of the Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology Department at NMSU, is involved in an international collaboration with the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua (UACH). Desmond, along with other NMSU and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) colleagues, is studying declining numbers of burrowing owls in the North American Great Plains grasslands, which stretch from Canada across the U.S. and into Mexico. The project, which began in 2005, was awarded $500,000 in 2009 from the USDA to include other grassland birds and the effects that cattle grazing has on prairie dog systems, which are home to the burrowing owls. The study is important for the management and sustainability of the entire North American Great Plains grasslands. Involving students is an important project goal, and so far, 49 undergraduates from NMSU and 10 from UACH have participated. Four NMSU master’s degree students and one from UACH have also participated. (Information, Courtesy of NMSU Research & Resources Magazine, Spr. 2010).

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