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‘Where ideas become reality,’ NMSU’s Aggie Innovation Space benefits students, community

Since its official opening in 2014, New Mexico State University’s Aggie Innovation Space has been an avenue for students to not only have access to state-of-the-art resources but also to cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship. Aggie Innovation Space, which is housed in the College of Engineering but open to all majors and the community, provides access to experienced mentors, new technologies, design software and tools.

A woman and two men stand in the front row, with two men in the second row.
New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu (front center) and his wife, Sheryl, donated $250,000 to NMSU’s Aggie Innovation Space to support student scholarships and fellowships. The couple is pictured with NMSU’s College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi Reddi (front right), Luke Nogales, (back left) engineering technology associate professor, and Taylor Fresques (back right), Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center lab coordinator. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)
Two women and two men pose with a dog.
Among the various projects New Mexico State University’s Aggie Innovation Space mentors have designed and developed for community members are a wheelchair for Kita and his owner, Michelle Lebsock (right). Kita’s right hind leg was amputated due to cancer in spring 2016. As NMSU College of Engineering students and AIS mentors (from left) Natalia Perez, Abdiel Jimenez and Arturo Dominguez completed the project in fall 2016. (Courtesy photo)
A man on the right fires a confetti cannon over rows of graduates.
An innovator at New Mexico State University’s Aggie Innovation Space fires a confetti cannon at commencement ceremonies at the Pan American Center. Five devices were built in spring 2017 and first used during the May 2017 commencement ceremonies at NMSU. (Courtesy photo)

Aggie Innovation Space received a $250,000 gift to support student scholarships and fellowships from NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and his wife, Sheryl. An announcement was made at NMSU’s Giving Tuesday in November.

“The Aggie Innovation Space is incredibly inspiring,” Dan Arvizu said. “It gives students from all of our colleges the chance to be entrepreneurs. Sheryl and I both have a heart for those students who are near the end of their education but run into financial challenges. Hopefully, this gift will perpetuate continued trajectory for this innovative space for the long term.”

“The key purpose of AIS is to provide experiential learning opportunities to students in a community setting,” said College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi Reddi. “This gift will make the Aggie Innovation Space student-centered. It will increase student engagement in the AIS and promote industries, students and faculty and staff to work together.”

From the beginning, Aggie Innovation Space has collaborated with NMSU’s Arrowhead Center to help connect entrepreneurs with students and researchers to design and build products contributing to the economic development in the state and region.

“AIS is a place where ideas become reality, and people can come and learn or relearn skills,” said Aggie Innovator Veronica Gurrola. “It’s a free resource and open environment for students and the community.

“Being at the Aggie Innovation Space gives me a lot of experience in all different types of engineering,” she said. “Since I’m a mechanical and aerospace engineering student, I don’t get to learn too much about coding or material properties. Working at AIS I learn a lot of things outside my discipline, not only technical skills but managerial skills as well. AIS is a student-managed facility, so I have also learned a lot of the administration side of things.”

Reddi said an important function of Aggie Innovation Space is the hands-on learning opportunities students receive. Recently, Gurrola has worked on projects such as a compost grinder for campus and a prosthetic arm for a 4-year-old boy.

Additional projects Aggie Innovators have worked on over the past few years are confetti cannons for NMSU’s commencement ceremonies and a wheelchair for a dog named Kita, who lost a leg due to cancer, and his owner, Michelle Lebsock. Aggie Innovation Space also offered free workshops in the fall semester that included instruction on soldering and SolidWorks 3D computer-aided design software.

In August 2018, the College of Engineering announced plans to combine three spaces under the Aggie Innovation Space umbrella. The integrated center includes a prototyping space in the Ed and Harold Foreman Engineering Complex III; the Student Project Center, a fabrication lab located in Jett Hall; and the Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Center, a machine shop in Engineering Complex I.

For more information on Aggie Innovation Space contact innovate@nmsu.edu.