SOCORRO, N.M., April 3, 2003 -- More than 500 middle school and high school scholars from throughout the state will exhibit their research projects on Saturday, April 12, at the 51st Annual New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair on the New Mexico Tech campus.

The student exhibitors will compete for more than $100,000 in awards and scholarships. Students qualify for the state competition by placing in one of six previously held regional science and engineering fairs. Four senior division grand award winners and two alternates will be chosen at the state level to advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 11 - 17.

Exhibits at the state science fair will be judged on Saturday, April 12, during the morning and early afternoon, with display areas opening for public viewing later that afternoon, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium.

The evening before the event, the Graduate Students Association features a talk by James Oberg, former NASA space engineer, author, and NBC News space analyst. Oberg will discuss "Investigating the Columbia Catastrophe." The talk is at 7:30 p.m. in Macey Center and is free and open to the public.

New Mexico Tech has been hosting the New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair since the science fair's inception in 1953.