NMMI finishes fourth in global STEM competition

[anvplayer video=”5179831″ station=”998122″]

“We wanted to be the intimidators instead of the ones that were being intimidated, and we held our own this time. And we’re going to do the same thing next time, except we’re going to do better,” said NMMI Professor Frank Kimbler.

Working to change the tone of education in New Mexico, one group of students from the New Mexico Military Institute made sure they rose to the top on a global scale.

“I can’t explain how I felt when they called their name. But after when, when it started to sink in then it’s like, we are in cloud nine,” said NMMI Professor Demvia Maslian.

Kimbler and Maslian started the NMMI STEM Club back in 2019. Last year was their first time competing at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Dallas. 

They said that experience was an eye-opening one, but one that prepared them for this year. On a global scale, the Plant Sciences Team got fourth place in the world in their category.

They explained their win in layman’s terms for us.

“We decided to use locally-produced plants in New Mexico, so we had the chile chaff, which is just a waste product into Mexico, and then we’ve made bioplastic,” said NMMI Cadet Isaac Armenta.

“The chile chaff, it added a dark element to our plastic and that’s what made it a weed barrier. Since it really has capsaicin, which is like a neurotoxin, and it’s annoying to insects and animals, which is why the chilies produce it. And a lot- that added into our plastic is what made it the insect repellent,” he said about their award-winning project. 

The group worked for several hours after school on the project, and they said it’s great practice for the future careers they all want to pursue.

“After I graduate from NMMI, I plan to go to the Air Force Academy and major in aerospace engineering. And this, I thought would be a great step in that direction, trying to get myself involved in more science and engineering and stuff like that,” said Battalion Operations Officer and STEM Club member Evan Kennedy. 

They said the win was even sweeter because they weren’t expecting it, but they’re already looking forward to next year.

“It was unexpected, because I didn’t expect our name to be called out, called out first. So I was kind of just shocked that we even won anything,” said Cadet Lucas Tang. 

They’re not the only New Mexicans who came out on top there; students from Los Alamos and Las Cruces also competed and placed top of their categories too.