August 30, 2016 by Lauren Goldstein, NMSU News Center
Two talented New Mexico State University graduate students, Carlos Murguia and Victor Cruz, have made Arrowhead Center their nexus for productivity and success. The two students, both from Mexico, first came to NMSU in summer 2015 for a two-month combined program that included English as a second language, GRE training and an entrepreneurship and technology commercialization internship with Arrowhead Center. This initial opportunity for Murguia, Cruz and other students who participated in the program emerged as a result of Arrowhead’s Activando Emprendedores bilingual entrepreneurship training program, which includes partnerships with several universities throughout Mexico.
Arrowhead Center is a pipeline. Students, faculty, alumni and businesses may enter through any point of contact and then be directed to various programs, networks, mentors and business assistance that will be a fit and of value to the participant. Murguia and Cruz are recipients of full scholarships from the National Council of Science and Technology, or CONACYT, which is the Mexican equivalent of the National Science Foundation. The students will work with NMSU researchers on sustainability projects.
Griselda Martinez, director of AE and New Mexico Small Business Assistance at Arrowhead, has worked closely with both Murguia and Cruz. She cites them as a shining example of what is possible.
“Carlos and Victor actually represent the stories of many students who come to NMSU and to Arrowhead Center from many different backgrounds and experiences to find countless opportunities for their growth as professionals and entrepreneurs,” Martinez said.
After arriving in Las Cruces from Uruapan, Mexico, Murguia identified multiple business opportunities, including the import of several food products, as he saw that some products were readily available in his city and were not available in the U.S. market. After his experience in AE, Martinez referred him to Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G, Arrowhead’s student and alumni business incubator. There, Murguia flourished.
Murguia is working on other business concepts as well.
“Academically, I started working on my research project about cottonseed biodiesel production and sustainability,” Murguia said. “Professionally, I’ve gone through the process of understanding customer discovery and the business model canvas taught by Arrowhead Center. I’m very excited about the progress of my ideas. I have narrowed the market for my products and I will be working on the distribution channel next semester. I’m looking forward to seeing my ideas on the market soon.”
As a result of his involvement with Arrowhead, Murguia is conducting market research on a heat shield coating though his participation in Aggies I-Corps this summer. He is a graduate assistant for the AE and NMSBA programs and is a member of a local chartered Toastmasters, an international club for public speaking and leadership development. He recently started his training to accomplish his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification.
Victor Cruz, who is from Chihuahua City, Mexico, is also a member of Studio G and is dedicated to NMSU and his research.
“I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity, like networking hours at Studio G, as well as Aggie I-Corps,” Cruz said. “On campus, I also work the Special Events team at the Pan-American Center. I’m a member of Toastmasters and I am working on my thesis project which seeks to make a model to avoid defects in a new biodegradable plastic made with a polymer and pecan shells.”
Cruz is in the process of starting his own business based on the design of a prosthetic hand made with 3-D printing technology. The prosthesis can be printed quickly and is more economic than many current varieties available on the market.
Cruz and Murguia are also conducting an academic study with colleagues at Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in collaboration with faculty members from the Department of Industrial Engineering at NMSU. The NMSU team will be traveling to Ensenada, Mexico, during the fall semester to present research findings. While in Ensenada, Cruz and Murguia will discuss their thesis research projects with students at the university. Also, they both plan to attend the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Conference and the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference in the near future.
Other future plans are already underway for the graduate students. Building on their success in initial market validation as part of the most recent Aggie I-Corps cohort, both plan to pursue opportunities in NSF I-Corps. After graduation in December 2017, both plan to work in the energy sector through their own consulting firm, as well as continue their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Martinez said the fluidity of Arrowhead’s pipeline and the importance of mentorship as part of Arrowhead’s programming as highly influential in the students’ success.
“From the very beginning working with who we serve through any of our programs, our goal is to provide mentorship and coaching for long term positive impacts for each participant as individuals and agents of change,” Martinez said. “Victor and Carlos’ accomplishments are evidence of these positive impacts.”
To learn more about Arrowhead Center and its programs such as Studio G, NMSBA, and Activando Emprendedores, visit http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu.