New Mexico Tech recently hosted a daylong meeting of an interim committee of the New Mexico Legislature that focuses on scientific and technological initiatives. The 22-member Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee, which includes both state senators and state representatives from around New Mexico, met Monday, Aug. 8, at the Fidel Center.

Tech President Stephen G. Wells, Ph.D., provided an overview of the university’s academic and research activities, rankings and student success trends, ventures, and outreach efforts.

“Our students are immersed in research,” Wells told legislators. “Academic, research, and entrepreneurial endeavors at the university mean a lot for our state and how we move forward.”

Sharon Sessions, Ph.D., physics professor and outreach director, outlined activities and opportunities to recruit women into engineering careers for the state Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee at its interim meeting at Fidel Center Aug. 8.
Courtesy photo

Sharon Sessions, Ph.D., physics professor and outreach director, detailed activities and opportunities to recruit women into engineering careers. Mentoring, teacher supports, and specific programs aimed at youth, including science fairs, the Science Olympiad, New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) competitions all aim to empower and motivate both male and female students, including those from culturally diverse backgrounds, to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math studies and careers.

STEM outreach activities Tech sponsors and supports “provide opportunities for women to find their passion” and “help build the educational pathways,” she said. Women need to be exposed to engineering at an early age to pique their interest in exploring future careers.

J. Michael Timmons, Ph.D., interim director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, introduced legislators to the research and service division of Tech, including the Bureau’s programs, research activities, and robust public outreach functions, and the cuttings repository and Mineral Museum. He said a multitude of free earth science resources are available on the bureau website: https://geoinfo.nmt.edu/

“We provide the science, and hopefully folks use that to the best effect,” he said. “We provide information so it’s impactful to our constituents.”

Stacy Timmons, associate director of hydrology programs at the Bureau and implementation lead for the New Mexico Water Data Act, walked through the history of the 2019 act and the many activities and resources that have been developed for communication and collaboration among agencies and others collecting or managing water data for the state.

Timmons said that New Mexico is recognized as a national leader in making water data accessible to a range of users. She said the data collected and shared on the free and open source New Mexico Water Data website – https://newmexicowaterdata.org/ – is driven by stakeholders’ feedback on the data they want to find.

“We build that engagement with different data providers,” she said. “We aim to do better at how we share and integrate data,” which can be used for water quantity and quality research and decision making.

Legislators continued their meeting agenda Wednesday, Aug. 9, with a tour of Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences. More information, including meeting handouts, is on the committee’s website.

Katie Bauer, NMT Communications