EL PASO, TX – The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), in collaboration with the University of New Mexico and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, will prepare the next generation of nuclear security enterprise (NSE) talent to develop electronics for extreme environments thanks to a five-year, $5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
“With this grant, UTEP will make a substantial contribution to national security, with particular emphasis on nuclear security, extreme environment electronics and computer systems,” said Kenith Meissner, Ph.D., dean of UTEP’s College of Engineering.
Extreme environment electronics includes materials, electronic devices, sensors, circuits, electronic packaging and systems that can withstand environmental challenges such as extreme temperatures, mechanical stresses and radiation fields. Applications include the use of electronics in high-power power conversion, space, and weapons systems, all of which are critical to DOE and its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The grant will fund the efforts of the newly formed Electronics Education and Research Consortium for Extreme Environments (E3C) to create a sustainable pipeline of electrical engineers from underrepresented populations for the NSE workforce.
The consortium includes Hispanic institutions UTEP and the University of New Mexico (UNM), both top-tier research universities, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T), one of the top 10 historically black colleges and universities in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. NNSA partners include Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC), Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL).
The award is part of NNSA’s Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program, an initiative designed to build a sustainable pathway between DOE centers and laboratories and minority-serving institutions in STEM disciplines.
Miguel Velez-Reyes, Ph.D., professor and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering said he expects recent changes in U.S. manufacturing policies to increase the demand for electrical engineers, especially for electronic devices, systems and their applications.
To address that demand, over the next five years the program will provide financial aid to at least 65 graduate and undergraduate students at the three academic institutions in the form of stipends, scholarships and health insurance support.
Many other program participants will benefit from new curricula, research and internship opportunities at DOE partner facilities, and career and professional development activities.
The project’s collaborative research program will be conducted in collaboration with scientists and engineers from KCNSC, Sandia, and LANL. The consortium will also engage in outreach activities aimed at high school and college students to introduce them to careers and career paths in electrical engineering.
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