UTEP Hosts Top Aerospace and Defense Leaders at Technology Forum to Inspire Students
Last Updated on July 22, 2021 at 12:00 AM
Originally published July 22, 2021
By Christina Rodriguez
As the world embarks on the new space age of human commercial spaceflight, The University of Texas at El Paso aims not only to spark the interest of students to pursue careers in the aerospace and defense industries, but also provide opportunities for them to secure positions at top organizations.
The UTEP Aerospace Center and W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation in collaboration with the El Paso Chamber hosted the Technology Forum on July 21-22, 2021. The dynamic meeting brought UTEP students together with aerospace, defense and advanced manufacturing industry leaders and agency partners to network and present their cutting-edge research as well as showcase the University’s role in advancing efforts and technology in these critical areas.
Guests were able to tour the University’s state-of-the-art facilities both on and off campus, including the UTEP Aerospace and Keck centers, the Keck Center Cotton Facility in Downtown El Paso, the Spacecraft Design and Engineering Facility, the Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park at Fabens Airport, and the Unmanned Aerial System Flight Test Range in Tornillo, Texas.
Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., associate vice president for the UTEP Aerospace Center, said partnerships with premiere aerospace contractors bring unprecedented opportunities for UTEP students such as an abundance of jobs and internships. He hopes that events such as the Technology Forum that highlight the work of the University and students to advance these industries will lead to top agencies and companies building facilities in the Paso del Norte region to keep talented UTEP graduates local.
“UTEP is already a major force in future space exploration,” Choudhuri said. “We produce a lot of talented engineers. We will be one of the largest producers of aerospace and defense talent in our nation and also ensure that the aerospace and defense industry has the diversity needed to sustain the 21st century workforce.”
During the two-day event, senior leaders from Blue Origin, NASA, Lockheed Martin Space and Delalune Space spoke directly to 150 students from the UTEP Aerospace and Keck Centers to inspire and motivate them to follow their dreams and pursue opportunities that tackle the biggest challenges in aerospace, defense and advanced manufacturing.
UTEP graduate mechanical engineering student Brenda Caraveo is a research assistant on projects involving lunar in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) – the collection, processing, storage or use of materials found on the moon. She was inspired to hear the stories of trials and tribulations these industry leaders endured to get to where they are today. By participating in the forum, she feels empowered and motivated to keep pursuing her dream and sees a place for herself in the industry.
“UTEP is really inspiring us,” Caraveo said. “They are bringing in companies to work with us and mentor us. They are bringing in equipment that we can use. UTEP is really pushing us to be that foundation for future space exploration.”
In her address to students and industry leaders, UTEP President Heather Wilson stressed the importance of working together for the betterment of students, society and to build a strong aerospace, defense and advanced manufacturing workforce.
“Our responsibility is to develop talent and to advance discovery – meaningful discovery that can have a positive impact on the community and the economy that we serve,” Wilson said. “We want to be the University of choice that every company looking for talent in this region comes to because they know that we are really good at what we do, and we will work with them to provide opportunity for our graduates and advance meaningful discovery.”