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Engineering student offered more than a million dollars in scholarships chooses NMSU

Universities across the country offered Dakota Burrow more than $1 million in scholarships, but he chose to study mechanical engineering and mathematics at New Mexico State University.



Universities across the country offered Dakota Burrow more than $1 million in scholarships, but he chose to study mechanical engineering and mathematics at New Mexico State University. (Courtesy photo)

Burrow said that he chose NMSU because he "felt welcomed a lot more here at NMSU" and people know who he is. Two years ago he attended an exclusive program at Carnegie Mellon University, where he got a taste of the "fresh start," but he didn't like it as much as he thought he would.

"They help and support me here," Burrow said.

Burrow said the professors at NMSU know him and his work ethic. He worked on the Inertial Property Algorithm Verification Project with NMSU engineering Professor Ou Ma and his students while still in high school. He got a job this summer at NMSU's Reduced Gravity and Biomechanics Lab because professors knew him and pointed him in the right direction.

"Mr. Burrow is an accomplished student and will be an asset to the research Dr. Ma and his students are performing," said Ken Ruble, lead engineer and manager for the Reduced Gravity and Biomechanics Lab. Ruble also said he is looking forward to working with Burrow on a variety of projects.

The 18-year-old was the Mayfield High School Class of 2013 valedictorian had a 4.52 high school GPA, and was a National Merit Scholar and National Hispanic Scholar. He was awarded NMSU's President's Associates Excellence Scholarship and started out his first year of college with 78 credits; he is a freshman who is technically a junior.

The Las Cruces native has many accomplishments, but he is most proud of a robotics program he started for elementary school students called WARP, or the Weekly After-school Robotics Program. WARP has helped more than 60 elementary students get a taste of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) from a very young age. Burrow takes the students' creativity with Legos and channels it into Lego robotics at WARP.

"It's amazing what some of these kids can build," Burrow said.

In elementary school Burrow admired Jim Carrey and wanted to be an actor and funny man. It wasn't until high school that he realized he was meant for an engineering path. In ninth grade, he joined FIRST Robotics, which gave him a taste of what engineering was early on in his life.

Although he may not have realized he was meant for engineering until he was in high school, his engineering career started even earlier. In seventh grade, he had a very influential robotics teacher while at Vista Middle School. Burrow said he would get in trouble during class and the teacher would make an example out of him and this made him more focused in life and engineering.

That seventh grade robotics class sparked his interest so much that he bought a kit and built his own robot to enter into a competition called RoboRAVE, but it failed. He immediately set out to improve his robot, and in eighth grade he entered again. That time, he won first place in the state middle school competition.

As a hobby, Burrow currently is working on a robot that would be cheaper for students to build. He is trying to create a robot that runs on a cell phone. Since the microcontroller, the piece that usually runs a robot, is one of the most expensive pieces for educators to understand and purchase.

Since he started taking college courses at the age of 15, as a sophomore in high school, he could have graduated early, but he plans to take full advantage of his scholarship and graduate in 2017 with two degrees. After college, Burrow plans on going to graduate school and then possibly getting his Ph.D.