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UUSA Sponsors 2021 Governor’s STEM Challenge

24 January 2022

Every year, UUSA sponsors the Governor’s STEM Challenge, a program that encourages New Mexico students to explore STEM courses through an annual challenge question. In 2021, the question was: “How would you use Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), to make life better for your family, community, state, or country?”

Participating students were expected to construct a project model demonstrating the application of the question and how it relates to real-world problems/solutions. Team projects were judged by participating NM industry employers, such as UUSA, on the basis of quality and the degree to which the answers demonstrate necessary skills associated with NM STEM organizations.

UUSA’s Logistics Manager, Shawn O’Brien, participated on the 2021 panel of judges for the event, which took place virtually due to challenges presented by Covid-19.

“With the challenge question the State of New Mexico put forth to these kids, I had no idea what to expect, but when the organizer started sending me the groups’ formal write-ups, I was blown away,” O’Brien stated. “The issues that these students tackled were very impressive, and the solutions they proposed and built were nothing short of incredible. The students designed amazing working prototypes of objects like a multi-stage filtration system to keep micro-plastics from entering municipal water supplies, home electric generation plants that are fueled by organic waste, inexpensive, yet strong, construction brick alternatives made from plastic grocery bags, and even robots to automatically clean and maintain local parks. It was a great pleasure to witness their excitement and ingenuity, and even more so to see their hard work in action. I am proud of our state for organizing this event, all of the local business partners (including UUSA) for their support, and especially of the young future scientists, engineers, inventors, and programmers!”

“It is especially important that we continue to encourage participation in STEM from underrepresented populations in our industry,” stated Karen Fili, President & CEO of UUSA. “We are proud to sponsor this initiative every year and foster the development of future scientists and engineers in our local community.”