New Mexico Tech can be a very loud place.
At New Mexico Tech’s largest research facility, The Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, they study and help test, perfect and protect against explosives of all kinds.
A big focus is homeland security helping law enforcement and first responders deal with terrorist explosive devices. It’s a never-ending race against the bad guys.
“Every time we solve a problem, another one pops up and it really is a technology race. We’re trying to stay ahead of the technology because the terrorists are doing the same thing,” says Van Romero, Vice President of New Mexico Tech.
Over at the main campus, New Mexico Tech is also on the front lines of another battleground – cyberspace. Cyber security technology developed here is being transferred throughout the industry.
When it comes to the natural side of disasters, nature is one mission of New Mexico Tech’s Langmuir Lab.
Scientists work more than 10,000 feet up on Magdalena Ridge, a place that spawns powerful thunderstorms each summer.
It was New Mexico Tech researchers who discovered pointed lightning rods – dating back to Benjamin Franklin – did not protect structures as well as rods with rounded tips. Rounded tips on lightning rods are now code.
Also on the ridge near Langmuir, a giant New Mexico Tech telescope scans the night sky. Magdalena Ridge Observatory uses a backup mirror from the Hubble Space Telescope to look for dangerous asteroids.
“We have been really studying and being more focused on objects that are smaller than we would have worried about before…but could do great damage, even if they airburst in the atmosphere”, says Eileen Ryan with Magdalena Ridge Observatory.
The telescope has better tracking and maneuvering capabilities, unlike other large telescopes it can move quickly to see spacecraft in orbit or even rockets from Spaceport America.
Researchers are also using the observatory to test a new instrument that can study the atmospheres of exoplanets – alien planets in other solar systems.
Any university anywhere can borrow expensive seismic instruments from a giant warehouse at New Mexico Tech, funded by the National Science Foundation.