An estimated 100 golf teams hit the
links as part of the Dr. Daniel H. Lopez
President’s Golf Tournament on the New
Mexico Tech campus on Sept. 14 and 15.
It was two fun-filled days of golf,
great food, club house hospitality and a
chance for many golfers to catch up with
old friends against the backdrop of M
The 29th annual tournament is the primary fundraiser for the President’s Tuition
Assistance Fund and, since its inception,
has raised more than $990,00 to help support 480 students.
Because of the rigors of NM Tech’s
academic load, some students still need
extra semesters to graduate, and with most
scholarships only covering four years,
there are those who are worthy of help.
According to Niche.com, NM Tech is
ranked as the No. 1 Best College and Best
Value College in New Mexico. The school
also ranks as the No. 9 school in the country as a Hispanic-serving institution – a
designation for schools with more than 25
percent Spanish student attendance.
The school is ranked #1 by the National
Science Foundation for bachelor’s graduates from public universities who later earn
Basic circuitry puzzles and games were
the spark that ignited Mohammad Afrazi’s
passion for engineering as a teenager in
Iran – a foundation that propelled him to
earn undergraduate and graduate degrees
in civil engineering, Now Afrazi is earning
a second master’s, this time in mechanical engineering with a robotics emphasis under Dr. Kooktae Lee at New Mexico Tech.
“After I got to civil engineering I saw a lot of repeatable jobs that we can make automatic” said Afrazi. “There
are some dangerous areas that humans are working in,
for example very tall buildings and tall bridges or underground structures, and they are dangerous to do maintenance. After seeing those jobs I got into robotics,” Afrazi
His primary goal in pursuing expertise across engineering disciplines is to center human safety by reducing
the possibility of danger in risky jobs people have to perform without assistance from automation. He has contributed to three books, including “Programming the Finite
Element Method with Special Application in Geotechnical
Engineering 1 and 2” and “Elastic Theory of Materials.”
He is also co-author of more than 30 papers, including
“Strength and Deformation Behavior of Sand-rubber
Mixture” in which researchers explored the use of waste
tires to strengthen soils and sands in the construction of
During his academic career in Iran, Afrazi earned
a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Shiraz
University and a master’s degree in the same discipline
at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran. There, he was
president of the Civil Engineering Student Scientific
Association of Iran, and editor of the student-run scientific journal Palar, winning a national award as the country’s best scientific magazine by the Ministry of Science
Research and Technology. He is an editor and reviewer for
more than 20 scientific journals around the world and a
member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and
the Society of Mining Engineers.
“I want to make a robot to help humans -to do something that does something dangerous and hazardous
and takes the burden of that from humans.” Afrazi said.
“Robotics nowadays are getting jobs from humans, the
only areas that robots are helping humans in are in surgery or in areas hazardous or dangerous for humans.”
Afrazi is a recipient of the President’s Tuition
Assistance Scholarship award. He said the award has
enabled him to procure research and books he needs to
pursue his education without putting a burden on his family. He hopes to pursue a doctorate in robotics after his
graduation from New Mexico Tech.
As a kid, Mireya Grijalva found herself transfixed
by scientists in the cartoons she watched growing up in
Zacatecas, Mexico. Always in the background, the eccentric supporting characters somehow managed to outshine
the flashier roles in her eyes.
“It was always the scientist behind everything that
happened, but they were never the main character,”
Grijalva said with a laugh. “My favorite character was
always the scientist.”
A senior expected to graduate at the end of the Fall
2023 semester, Grijalva is studying Biomedical Sciences
at New Mexico Tech. She first discovered the degree program at a college admissions fair as a Rio Rancho High
She entered the major with an eye on a career in medicine, but found herself gravitating toward the study of the
broader biological world – including the changing climate
and its effects on the cultivation and production of essential crops like wheat.
Working with mentor Dr. Joel Sharbrough, her
research focuses on methods for bioengineering wheat to
increase its hardiness as geographical areas able to support a viable harvest shrink globally.
“We need to figure out the best ways to grow wheat
and in which conditions and start selecting for these
advantages,” she said.
She has also worked closely with NMT Associate
Professor Dr. Mostafa Hassanalian, in a group of students that designed a drone that collects CO2. Outside
the lab and out of the field, Grijalva serves as a Senator
in the SGA, and head of the body’s Mental Health
Committee. She is a member of the American Association
of University Women, and the Hispanic Students
Grijalva says the President’s Tuition Assistance
Scholarship saved her from facing a decision to cut her
education short just shy of her final semester at Tech.
She had unexpectedly exceeded the credit limit covered
by other scholarships, and without any savings to cover
tuition, she applied for and received the PTAS. “It was
such a relief,” she said. Grijalva won’t transition immediately into graduate school. First, she plans to take a break
for travel and to pursue some work experience in engineering