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NMSU engineering awarded $1 million grant to create hypersonics research center

The New Mexico State University College of Engineering is creating a niche in hypersonic research and education, and the United States Department of Defense has granted NMSU a $1 million, two-year Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research or DEPSCoR Award.

NMSU’s project, “New Mexico Basic Research Center of Excellence for Hypersonic Sensor Development and Testing,” will bring significant exposure and leverage to the university’s hypersonics ambitions.

The team includes Luis Cifuentes, vice president of research, as principal investigator, and with the co-principal investigators Andreas Gross, associate professor; Fangjun Shu, D. and A. Chapman Endowed associate professor; and J.I. Frankel, department head and R.G. Myers Endowed professor from the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.

“The State of New Mexico has a strong, well-established history and continual interest in hypersonics,” Frankel said. “NMSU, with the only degree granting aerospace engineering programs, must and will lead the way for providing well-prepared engineers to the state while producing state-of-the-art results useful for both commercial and defense related hypersonic programs.

“We expect research and workforce development support from a wide range of government, military and corporate sources in order to maintain a diverse and active research portfolio that meets the mission of the university and country’s needs,” Frankel said.  

The team hopes to acquire additional ground test facilities useful for basic research and workforce development, which brings extra value to NMSU research assistants and enhances the laboratory educational experience for NMSU students.

“Our vision is to develop a novel environment based on small-to-medium sized facilities that serve as a feeder to larger and more expensive ground test facilities,” Frankel said.

“Our team is expanding and working with other universities for establishing NMSU’s national and international reputation in this area,” he said. “Having a strong hypersonics program at NMSU will produce and encourage startup companies and help motivate the relocation of companies to this region.”

NMSU’s successful winning proposal was one of only two full proposals to receive a $1 million, two-year award in a competitive field of 37 states and territories, according to Frankel.

“The NMSU community will continue to produce well-prepared engineers through education, excitement, student-faculty interaction and top-scholarly research that will draw students, faculty and staff to New Mexico,” Frankel said. “This project strengthens our envisioned program. We expect continuous success through faculty dedication and vision toward U.S. interests.”

To read more about the DEPSCoR grants visit