NMSU awarded $601,000 to aid in economic development of U.S.-Mexico border region

Jan. 26, 2006 by Natisha Hales NMSU News Center

Because of its involvement in U.S.-Mexico collaboration, New Mexico State University was recently awarded $601,000 by the National Science Foundation to aid in economic development on both sides of the border.

The two-year award titled “New Mexico-Chihuahua Partnership for Innovation” will be used to develop technological solutions to border-related problems such as water issues, food security, job creation and multicultural education. Universities, the private sector and governmental agencies will come together to assist with the project and to support commercialization of new technologies, ultimately providing more economic opportunities in the area.

The project will be administered by Everett Egginton, vice provost for international and U.S.-Mexico border programs in cooperation with the NMSU colleges of business, arts and sciences, and engineering.

NMSU will work with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez and Tecnologico de Monterrey-Chihuahua to develop undergraduate student teams with faculty advisers to develop technology solutions to border area problems and challenges. The Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories and other private businesses also will have a part, and Egginton said there will be internship and job opportunities for students earning their degrees in science, business, engineering and technology.

At the end of the two-year project, there will be a technology showcase where student teams and faculty mentors can present their innovations to organizations and businesses that can assist with commercialization. The showcase will initially be presented in Las Cruces.

“Right now, there are many opportunities to use new technologies to address problems that affect both sides of the border,” Egginton said. “I think the National Science Foundation found our proposal to be positive because so many high-quality institutions are coming together with great potential to support development on both sides of the border.”

Although New Mexico has been ranked 27th in economic productivity by the State New Economy Index, Egginton said there is great potential for economic opportunities through cooperation of the state’s three research universities, two national laboratories and research universities and agencies in Mexico.

“Many college graduates leave New Mexico,” he said. “One of the goals of this project is to create jobs in New Mexico and Chihuahua to keep graduates in the area working on economic development issues.”

Juarez and Chihuahua have been hit hard by economic recession. Egginton said an estimated 100,000 have lost jobs because of assembly plants and factories moving overseas for cheaper labor. At the start of the 21st century, trade between the U.S. and Mexico also diminished.

“One of our goals is to increase trade,” Egginton said. “There are many challenges to the flow of goods back and forth across the border, but this project brings all concerned parties together to seek solutions.”

Other goals of the partnership include minority recruitment; networking through an electronic, bilingual newsletter; and integrating technology development, management, commercialization and marketing into the students’ courses.

Egginton said he is working to form the teams and hire a project coordinator to begin project activities as soon as possible.

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