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New Mexico State University

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Andeavor Foundation backs STEM initiatives at NMSU with $50,000

New Mexico State University and its mission on STEM outreach received another nod of support from an area business. Andeavor Foundation, the charitable arm of Andeavor, granted the NMSU Foundation with $50,000 to grow the university’s Jack & MaryLou Davis STEM TECH Lab and the NM BEST Robotics program.


A few people standing around a big check.
(From left) VJ Smith and Leonard Bloom with Andeavor present a $50,000 check to Patricia Sullivan, College of Engineering associate dean and NM BEST Robotics lead, Lakshmi Reddi, College of Engineering dean, and Nicole Delgado, assistant director of NMSU’s STEM Outreach program.

These two programs, aimed at improving interest and awareness in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among K-16 students, now have the financial capability to meet increasing demand from the local community.

“We have so many requests from nearby schools wanting to visit,” said Susan Brown, director of NMSU’s STEM outreach program and interim dean for the College of Education. “Our program manager can now lead the STEM TECH Lab full-time, which means more students will have access to cutting-edge and inspiring STEM experiences. I want to thank Andeavor vehemently for their belief in our program.”

With only part-time management, the STEM TECH Lab has already impacted more than 1,200 students this past spring semester. Brown expects that number to increase significantly with the Andeavor Foundation’s recent gift.

A portion of the funds will also finance the upcoming NM BEST Robotics season. Since 2001, middle and high school students from New Mexico and El Paso join teams at NMSU to design and build remote-controlled prototypes that face off in a six-week competition. Opportunities like these that reach beyond NMSU students appealed most to the Andeavor Foundation.

Andeavor, a marketing, logistics and refining company, changed its name from Tesoro following the acquisition of Western Refining in El Paso last year. Andeavor currently operates 10 refineries and employs more than 14,000 employees. Many of those employees at the El Paso refinery, according to VJ Smith, Andeavor’s government and public affairs manager, are NMSU graduates.

“When you walk the halls of the refinery in El Paso, you will see many NMSU Aggies,” he said. “Andeavor looks to NMSU for its future workforce, so this is an investment we believe will impact Andeavor moving forward, as well as the students.”

The mission of the Andeavor Foundation is to help create cleaner, safer, well-educated communities where Andeavor operates by making strategic investments in four primary areas: STEM education, vocational education, public safety and the environment. According to Smith, NMSU’s STEM education programs are truly remarkable.

“This investment will help NMSU do more, but we wouldn’t have given this to them if we didn’t believe the proposed STEM programs were already sustainable,” Smith said. “These two programs have proven they can be successful and impact students year after year. We are very pleased with their track records and forward-looking potential.”

Leonard Bloom, vice president of capital projects at Andeavor, experienced that success first-hand as a student in the College of Engineering in the early 1980s. He returned to campus to present the $50,000 check where College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi Reddi thanked Bloom and Andeavor for their support.

“STEM at NMSU is a strong collaboration between many of our colleges and is one initiative we want to continue to invest in and grow,” Reddi said. “You have now become one of the owners of a major focus on our campus and a key priority of Chancellor Arvizu and President Floros. Your support at this level is appreciated.”

Tina Byford, chief operating officer of the NMSU Foundation, says this partnership only further enables current Aggie students, as well as future students, to find a passion in STEM at NMSU.

“Even before this gift, Andeavor has a long history of taking care of NMSU students by hiring them and believing in their abilities and skillsets our faculty work so hard to instill them with before entering the workforce,” Byford said. “We’re so pleased that Leonard Bloom, an Aggie, is one of few at the helm of such an impactful organization that provides critical resources to communities across the nation. And, we’re even further delighted that he has this opportunity to come full-circle – from student to professional, returning to inspire others where it all began.”

For more information on the STEM TECH Lab, please visit https://stem.nmsu.edu. To register a team for NM BEST Robotics this fall, please visit www.bestinc.org.