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Rocket launch will highlight Las Cruces Prefreshman Engineering Program

Middle and high school students participating in the Las Cruces Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP) will launch homemade rockets at 9:30 a.m. July 23 at the New Mexico State University Horseshoe.

"Intel's Rocket Launch Into the Next Millennium" also will feature guest speaker Jim Reed, K-12 program manager from Intel Corporation's Rio Rancho plant.

Approximately 125 students are participating in this year's PREP, which began June 14 and runs through Aug. 6. PREP is designed to prepare low-income and minority students for careers in mathematics, science and engineering. Students from Dona Ana County can participate in PREP for up to three years, with each year highlighting a different aspect of math, science or engineering in addition to rocket building.

While first-year participants build rockets using a single soda bottle of compressed air and water, second-year PREP participants design parachutes for their rockets and third-year students launch "ultimate rockets" that use three or four soda bottles.

PREP is primarily funded through a NASA grant to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Called "Proyecto Access," the grant in turn funds eight universities throughout the country to host PREP programs at no cost to participants. NMSU's 1999 Proyecto Access grant is $90,000. NMSU also has received $39,000 from Intel.

For more information on PREP, contact Alyne Fulte, NMSU mathematics instructor and PREP director, at (505) 646-5067.