University of Texas at El Paso researchers and 704th Test Group to continue growing their beneficial partnership
By Dwight Harp, AEDC/PA
/ Published February 04, 2019
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 704th Test Group’s Holloman High Speed Test Track, operated by the 846th Test Squadron, recently hosted a group of scientists and engineers from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
“Let’s be friends” was a common theme of collaboration, cooperation and communication.
However, this collaboration didn’t just start yesterday. Collaboration initially began in the summer of 2018 when Dr. Vinod Kumar and his graduate student, Jose Terrazas, participated in the Summer Faculty Fellowship Program.
Kumar and Terrazas worked with Dr. Robert Edmonds of the 846th Test Squadron to carry out Computational Fluid Dynamic modeling of sled water braking.
A team from the 846th TS also visited UTEP in July 2018, where they met with Dr. Diana Natalicio, the UTEP president, and several vice presidents, deans, faculty and staff. As part of the visit to UTEP, Lt. Col. Mathew Wroten, 846th TS commander, gave a STEM-inspired talk to high school students with special needs.
Those efforts led to the UTEP vice president for Research and the dean of Engineering and Science to first see a dual ejection seat test on the AEDC High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base, a first for all the UTEP guests, before coming back to track headquarters for extended briefings by both Track and UTEP, which was followed by collaborative discussions.
Col. Charles Cain, 704th Test Group commander, stated to the group, “UTEP has a lot to offer,” as the discussion turned to how the Test Group and UTEP can find ways to work together.
Real world experience for UTEP students and job placement for graduates topped the benefits for UTEP personnel.
The primary 704th TG benefits of this partnership include innovation and problem solving of long-standing technical questions as well as a local talent pool from which to hire.
Dr. Robert Kirken, UTEP Dean of Science, shared that many UTEP grads are first-generation college students. He commented that UTEP works to be more research-oriented, adding that his primary ‘take-home’ is to investigate synergistic efforts between the 704th TG and UTEP. He mentioned that El Paso didn’t have the kinds of research intensive opportunities as the 704th TG and expressed significant interest in internships.
Dr. Theresa Maldonado, Dean of Engineering, led the UTEP briefing, emphasizing the University’s mission of access, excellence and success. An in depth discussion relating to their improvement and potential resource sharing with the 704th TG followed. Integrating systems and Hispanic women in leadership were among her highlighted comments.
In a brief interview, Maldonado expressed her “great surprise” at all the activities and capabilities of the Track and Test Group. She also stated that she wants to explore possibilities of internships and careers for students, as well as, internships for faculty. When questioned further about her ideas behind faculty internship programs Maldonado explained, “A lot of faculty have never worked outside academia.”
Finally, Maldonado added that she’d like to explore how her operation can best engage active duty military, veterans and civilians into engineering degree programs, research projects and perhaps curriculum development through collaborative UTEP and the 704th TG interaction.
Cain’s vision includes lasting partnerships with UTEP and other area institutions of higher learning and regular sharing with them all.
“It would be great to have internships, partnerships and possibly future employment blossom from these efforts,” he said.