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Ford, Cummins give NMSU engineering program $10,000 to build off-road vehicle

With a combined $10,000 from Ford Motor Co. and diesel engine maker Cummins Inc., students in New Mexico State University's mechanical engineering technology program are building a unique ultra-light, off-road vehicle, said Anthony Hyde, director of NMSU's Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center.


Cummins provided $1,000 for the project in December 2000, and Ford provided an additional $9,000 this spring, Hyde said.

When completed later this year, the ultra-light will be a high-tech, high-concept vehicle demonstrating various elements of engineering taught in the NMSU program, including design, problem analysis and visual appeal, Hyde said.

"It will have the performance of a four-wheeler, with the lightness of a mountain bike," he added. "It should be light enough to put on the roof rack of your SUV."

Martin Malloy, director of Ford's Human Resources Business Operations - Manufacturing, said Ford became interested in the project after company representatives visited the campus in the fall of 2000.

"Ford Motor Co. considers NMSU to have one of the finest engineering programs in the country," he said. "We're very pleased to have had a successful recruiting season there this fall, but we want to go beyond just hiring engineers and develop a long-term relationship with the students, faculty and administration. This contribution is a good first step toward that goal."

Hyde said four of the students who will be working on the off-road vehicle -- senior mechanical engineering major Jesus Flores, junior mechanical engineering technology major James Bowen, junior mechanical engineering technology major Jorge Polanco and sophomore mechanical engineering technology major Joe Estrada -- visited Ford's Detroit headquarters with an NMSU delegation Jan. 24-27. Also on the trip were senior mechanical engineering technology major Chance Valentine, senior industrial engineering major James Macdonald and industrial engineering graduate student Chris Hoy, along with Hyde, Engineering Research Center Director Rich Hill, and College of Engineering Development Director Mack Haley, Hyde said.

Following the trip, Ford has also agreed to provide engineering design support for the project and to help the students obtain patents for any concepts they originate while developing the vehicle, Hyde said.

Jack King
Feb. 27, 2001