New Mexico State University will debut an innovative lab that will engage area students in the fields of education, science, technology, engineering and math this month.
The new TECH (Test and Evaluation Collaboration Hub) Center will open its doors during a ribbon-cutting ceremony from 10 to 11 a.m. Sept. 27 in the atrium of O’Donnell Hall, home of the College of Education. NMSU, in conjunction with White Sands Missile Range, recently received a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to build and maintain the lab, which is touted as an immersive learning experience for students in the STEM fields.
NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers is scheduled to attend, along with College of Education Dean Don Pope-Davis, College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi Reddi and other dignitaries from NMSU and White Sands Missile Range.
“This is an exciting new addition to NMSU that promises to provide students in our region with an excellent learning experience,” Pope-Davis said. “The STEM fields are becoming increasingly important in education, and so we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to give students in our region the valuable skills they need to succeed.”
NMSU is one of only five schools in the nation to call itself home to a Department of Defense educational lab, and is the only university to house one, said Susan Brown, director of NMSU’s STEM Outreach Center. Brown said that because of the networking capabilities provided by the STEM Outreach Center, the College of Education was “a logical choice” for the new lab.
“Students will be engaged in a variety of missions that require critical thinking in applying core math and science competencies ranging from time-speed-distance calculations to advanced physics,” Brown said. “All of the missions focus on real world problems, including increasing communication skills as well as developing skills in aviation engineering.
The lab was designed by TEQGames at Universal Studios, which was also responsible for designing the popular The Mummy attraction along with many of the rides at Universal Studios in Florida. The lab at NMSU is divided into two sections: one side simulates a training camp in Afghanistan, while the other features a New Mexican mountain backdrop. The lab also features a number of computers and flight simulators so that students learn math concepts.
“The TECH Center would greatly help us motivate students to pursue STEM careers,” Reddi said. “Along with our cutting edge laboratories and facilities in engineering, the TECH Center will help us recruit some of the brightest students in the region to engineering disciplines.”
The NMSU TECH Center is already proving to be a popular destination for elementary and middle school students. So far, NMSU’s STEM Outreach Center has booked five school tours in October.
The STEM Outreach Center provides high-quality after-school and summer programs for New Mexico elementary and middle school students. Since 2009, it has served more than 24,000 students and hosted professional development programs for more than 2,000 teachers statewide.