Dec 1, 2010

Benito Herrera Awarded Research Scholarship

ECE senior Benito Herrera was selected in November to receive a research award from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LS-AMP).

The AMP organization at UNM supports the research activities of about 10 undergraduate students per year. The students work with their faculty mentors, who in turn benefit from the experience of preparing future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals while having student research assistants involved in their work.

Benito, an electrical engineering major, received the news on Nov. 11 from UNM's institutional coordinator for New Mexico AMP, Laura Crossey, who is a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

In January 2009 Benito was named Scholar of the Week by Great Minds in STEM, and he is a 2008 HENAAC-Lockheed Martin scholarship recipient. Also in 2009, he served as president of UNM's Hispanic Engineering & Science Organization (HESO) and as secretary of the IEEE Student Chapter.

According to the Great Minds in STEM website, Benito grew up in Española and participated in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program of Northern New Mexico. After high school he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served as a nuclear weapons technician E/3-Airman First Class. His duties included the maintenance, assembly, disassembly and modification of nuclear munitions. More recently, Benito has become interested in renewable energy and eco-friendly technologies, and he told the Great Minds program that after graduating he would like to apply his skills to reducing the environmental intrusiveness of existing technologies.

Congratulations, Benito.

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The New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation (New Mexico AMP) fosters enrollment and graduation of historically underrepresented groups in STEM fields. It is a partnership of the state's public two- and four-year colleges and universities. Headquartered at New Mexico State University, it is sponsored by NSF and receives support from state, federal, and private programs.

AMP's Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) program provides opportunities for students to establish networks, to learn the role and work of professionals in their disciplines, to improve their communication skills, and to benefit from extensive professional and academic mentoring. URA recipients are encouraged and supported to present their research at the New Mexico AMP Student Research Conference held at New Mexico State University each fall, in addition to other professional conferences in their disciplines. URA students are also supported in preparing for graduate school and in meeting the expectations of business and government internships and employment.

UNM students are eligible to apply for an LS AMP URA award if they are Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, or African-American, have been admitted to a STEM major in a UNM program, have a prospective research mentor, and are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Great Minds in STEM is a Los Angeles based national organization that supports Hispanic Americans in STEM fields. Established in 1989 as Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC), Great Minds in STEM is a nonprofit that focuses on STEM educational awareness programs for students from kindergarten to career. It provides resources for recognition and recruitment of Hispanics in STEM fields on a national level. It identifies role models for young students, showcases STEM talent, hosts a career fair, supports development of leadership skills, and funds scholarships.