Six of the eight New Mexico Tech students who attended the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference in Palm Springs, Calif., in early October pose for a photo. Top row (from left) Taylor Yazzie, Jonnie Woody, Theryn Kee, and Kyle Mace. Bottom row (from left): Isabel Bliner-Yazzie and Zora Tolino-Minefee.
Courtesy photo

Student members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) from New Mexico Tech recently returned from a national conference energized for a year of activities aimed at supporting Indigenous students pursuing their degrees. New Mexico Tech’s AISES Chapter sent eight students to the 2022 AISES National Conference, held in Palm Springs, California, Oct. 6-8.

AISES nurtures the building of community on campus by bridging science and technology with traditional Native values. AISES provides opportunities for American Indian students to pursue studies in science and engineering, business, and other academic areas.

The annual national conference, which draws more than 2,000 attendees from across the country, features accomplished speakers, networking opportunities, research competitions, student awards and cultural activities.

According to Jonnie Woody, senior and club vice president, New Mexico Tech students not only successfully represented the university at the conference, some of the students returned with job and internship offers and others received awards.

Taylor Yazzie received two awards for her academic performance, and Woody was sponsored by Tech alumna Bernadette Tsosie to be a Sequoyah Fellow for 2023.

New Mexico Tech AISES members also returned with enthusiasm for the many activities they are sponsoring on campus to help support and promote American Indians students in technical fields and contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion planning under the university’s strategic plan.

The chapter will host Native American Heritage Day Saturday, Nov. 12, on the New Mexico Tech campus, featuring motivational speakers, small business owners and other vendors, a variety of academic and cultural activities and a luncheon.

Woody said this year’s event will be the first-ever Native American Heritage Day at New Mexico Tech. The club also will host the regional AISES conference March 24 to 26, 2023, at New Mexico Tech.

“We’re working on developing the AISES chapter, getting Native kids out of their dorms,” she said.

The club works on breaking down barriers for American Indian students when it comes to applying to college and graduate school.

“I feel we’re a family,” she said. “When Native kids go to college, it’s a big weight on their shoulders,” she said.

Another activity AISES is involved with is the Navajo Technical University-New Mexico Tech Navajo Nation Water Purification Project (N4WPP) joint endeavor to install water filtration equipment testing facilities on the Navajo Nation. AISES members also have participated in two focus groups sponsored by a Sloan Foundation grant aimed at identifying and removing barriers to students’ academic success.

During Weeks of Welcome at the beginning of the fall semester, AISES members participated in the club and organization fair and held a sit-down welcome dinner for the more than 100 American Indian students on campus.

The club meets weekly at 7 p.m. and sponsors monthly dinners for American Indian students. More information is online at:

New Mexico Tech report