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New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge winners announced

Participants from 33 high school teams convened virtually Dec. 12 for the second New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge, a competition testing students’ ability to use science, technology, engineering and math to solve real-world problems. Led by New Mexico’s Office of the Governor, the Challenge was a collaboration between New Mexico State University, the Department of Public Education, the Department of Workforce Solutions, Los Alamos National Laboratory and 18 other STEM employers in the state.


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Centennial High School participants from Las Cruces, New Mexico, were one of 33 high school teams to compete virtually in the second New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge Dec. 12. (Courtesy photo)
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Capital High School participants from Santa Fe, New Mexico, were one of 33 high school teams to compete virtually in the second New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge Dec. 12. (Courtesy photo)
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V. Sue Cleveland High School participants from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, were one of 33 high school teams to compete virtually in the second New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge Dec. 12. (Courtesy photo)

“I’m humbled by the New Mexico talent on display at this year’s competition,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “What a remarkable showcase of diligent, bright and hard-working students from all across our state. This has been a challenging year for all of us, not least New Mexico’s students. But our best and brightest will continue to shine, I have no doubt, and my faith in the ingenuity and strength of New Mexico’s young people has been invigorated by this year’s STEM competitors. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Teams from public, private and charter high schools across the state participated, along with judges from 18 New Mexico STEM employers, plus educators, volunteers and government officials. Each team was composed of up to 10 students who designed and developed a project model to address the question posed by NMSU, “How can you combine New Mexico’s natural resources with technology to address regional/global needs?”

“For many students in New Mexico, events like the Governor’s STEM Challenge are among their first introductions to the exciting career paths and opportunities that a college degree can offer,” said NMSU President John Floros. “This program empowered students from all backgrounds to see themselves as inquisitive thinkers, problem-solvers and bold innovators. It’s exciting to get a glimpse of what the future holds when these students apply their ideas to real problems. Congratulations to all of the students, and the educators and mentors who helped them shape their ideas into real solutions.”

STEM employers provided judges and cash awards capped at $5,000 per winning team of up to 10 members. Each student on a winning team took home $500.

“What I most appreciated about the STEM competition itself, was the meaningful interactions between judges and teams about their submissions,” said LANL Foundation Director of Evaluation and Learning Kersti Tyson. “It was clear that students and their sponsors really persevered this year, and that even a pandemic cannot stop innovation — indeed perhaps it inspired some. It is great to see our state’s leadership rallying around these students through this competition.”

The winners are (in alphabetical order):

Academy for Technology & the Classics, Santa Fe
Sponsor: URENCO

Bernalillo High School, Bernalillo
Sponsor: Sandia Labs

Capital High School, Santa Fe
Sponsor: PNM

Centennial High School, Las Cruces
Sponsor: Lovelace Medical Center

East Mountain High School, Sandia Park
Sponsor: Chevron

Mandela International Magnet School, Santa Fe
Sponsor: Presbyterian

Mayfield High School, Las Cruces
Sponsor: Virgin Galactic

Monte Del Sol Charter School, Santa Fe
Sponsor: Los Alamos National Laboratories

New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell
Sponsor: Facebook

Pecos Connections Academy, Carlsbad
Sponsor: FreePort MacMoran

Roswell High School, Roswell
Sponsor: Deloitte

Sandia High School, Albuquerque
Sponsor: Pattern Energy

San Jon Municipal Schools, San Jon
Sponsor: Boeing

Santa Teresa High School, Santa Teresa
Sponsor: El Paso Electric

Taos Academy State Charter School, Taos
Sponsor: N3B

Taos Integrated School of the Arts Charter, Taos
Sponsor: Molina Healthcare

Tohatchi High School, Tohatchi
Sponsor: Air Force Research Laboratories

V. Sue Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho
Sponsor: Intel

“Mayfield STEM students rose to the challenge, and in the middle of a pandemic, created a DIY solar tracking autonomous panel that allows for residential emergency use of this product. It produces about 10 to 30 percent more power than a regular panel placed on a south-faced roof, or direction. It is also more cost effective,” said a representative from Mayfield High School. “Through many restrictions and having to build this by passing it to the next person, and then meeting online, these students rose to the occasion and won. We couldn’t be happier to be the number one pick by Virgin Galactic for all the hard work and dedication that these students put in. They are rock stars.”