Campus News - January 16, 2001

SIPI, UNM receive grant

In conjunction with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), UNM has received a three-year, $402,000 grant from NASA for a new program titled Stars on Earth. The program provides under-represented high school students with research experience in space science and technology-based academic preparation in math, science, engineering and technology (MSET). SIPI college students will also benefit from establishing a new course in Earth and Planetary Science, and the opportunity to be involved in related research projects.

The coordinator of special programs at SIPI, Cathy Abeita, is the principal investigator for the Stars on Earth program and will work with UNM research professor Horton Newsom of the Institute of Meteoritics and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

“The NASA program is one of several student outreach programs at SIPI,” says SIPI president Carolyn Elgin. “The program is designed to support high school students in preparing for math, science, engineering and technology programs in college through research experiences in space science and technology-based academic preparation.”

The centerpiece of the Stars on Earth program is a six-week residential experience at SIPI, to include a research experience component to impact both the high school students and the SIPI faculty and students involved in the outreach program through special training at the Institute of Meteoritics (IOM) at UNM.

The research activity focuses on establishing a Meteorite Identification Laboratory, to be housed in SIPI’s soon-to-be-reality 60,000 square foot Advanced Technical Education Applications Building.The building will serve as a teaching and research laboratory.

Identifying meteorites requires a basic understanding of meteorite properties and the ability to conduct a logical investigation using basic geological equipment. In suspicious cases or samples, advanced analysis will be conducted at UNM using a scanning electron microscope with the assistance of SIPI students.

In addition to the programs for students, activities for the students’ high school teachers and parents will provide a source of support and reinforcement for choosing a technical career path. The Stars on Earth program builds on successful outreach programs at each institution.

The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
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