Sen. Heinrich Tours Tech Campus

SOCORRO, N.M. March 6, 2013 – Sen. Martin Heinrich visited the campus of New Mexico Tech on Friday, Feb. 22, to tour various facilities and become acquainted with Tech's capabilities.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (middle) hears about the Mini-Baja team from Mechanical Engineering. At left is student Steven Olona. At right is Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez. 
Sen. Martin Heinrich (seated) hears a presentation from mechanical engineering student Joseph Macgillivray about a new instrument that recently flew on a NASA-funded balloon to 104,000 feet of altitude.
"There is no question that the students, faculty, and staff at New Mexico Tech are playing a critical role in America's ability to meet the demands of the 21st century and understand the important role of technology in addressing some of our country's most difficult challenges," Heinrich said after his visit.

After a brief meeting with top administrators, Heinrich and several of his staffers toured the Mechanical Engineering Department, the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center, EMRTC and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory offices.

Several student teams gave very brief descriptions of their Senior Design projects in Mechanical Engineering, followed by a tour of several labs and workshops.

At the IRIS PASSCAL Instrument Center, project principal investigator and Earth science professor Dr. Rick Aster explained the Center's role in the global studies of geophysics and seismology.

Aster said, "It's critical that federal- and state-supported university research centers, and their importance to the advancement of education and be recognized and sustained for our nation. It's wonderful to have a Senator from our state, Martin Heinrich, who truly understands and passionately defends this."

Aster said he was impressed – and not for the first time – with the Senator's grasp of and support for science, its roles in our society, and the detailed budget and other political issues now facing research institutions.

The MRO website said Sen. Heinrich's "engineering background was in evidence as he asked insightful questions about the science of the interferometer." The Senator, who earned his bachelor's in engineering in Missouri, asked detailed questions of the mechanical engineering students as well.

Tech administrators and MRO scientists presented a video overview of Magdalena Ridge Observatory in general and the MRO Interferometer in particular.

The Senator then explored the new engineering SmartLab in Cramer 114, where he used the Samsung surface computer table to examine satellite images of the Observatory, following which he was presented with a scale freshly printed 3D model of the telescope.

"I'd like to thank Dr. Daniel López, Dr. Peter Gerity, Dr. Van Romero, and the entire New Mexico Tech community for their warm welcome and continued leadership in making New Mexico Tech one of the elite technology and engineering schools in the country," Heinrich said after his visit. "I look forward to my next visit."

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