Partnership including NMSU, alumna-owned business gets DOD recognition

WRITER: mbauma46
CONTACT: Christopher Brown, 575-646-1892, brownchr

New Mexico State University is among a group of partners that earned a top award through the U.S. Department of Defense Mentor Protégé Program, the oldest of its kind established to help small businesses during the early 1990s.

NMSU, a Hispanic Serving Institution, IDEALS, Inc., a Las Cruces Woman-Owned Small Business owned by NMSU Engineering alumna Margaret Dubbin, and AGEISS Inc., an international engineering and environmental services company, partnered with White Sands Missile Range in a project that earned the group the prestigious Nunn-Perry Award. The award from the DOD recognizes the partnership between a small business and a large mentor company. The NMSU partnership was among seven to win the award for 2017 and was the only team in which both the Mentor (AGEISS) and the Protégé (IDEALS) are Woman-Owned Businesses.

“It was a true partnership,” said Christopher Brown, NMSU geography professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “A really important partner was White Sands Missile Range. We focused on WSMR as one of our case studies. The Comprehensive Long-range Encroachment Analysis Resource (CLEAR) was designed to help WSMR deal with encroachment threats. We performed some GIS mapping work of the two priority areas adjacent to the WSMR area that they asked us to examine. The second component of the work included an extensive survey of encroachment issues. There was a very detailed survey on which we collaborated and WSMR completed it. The end result is CLEAR.”

Lambis Papelis, NMSU associate professor of environmental engineering in the civil engineering department, explains “with ever-increasing population and development in previously uninhabited buffer zones surrounding military installations, potential land use and other conflicts are always a possibility. The challenge is to minimize the potential for such conflicts and to maximize the total benefit for society and the environment. We believe that the approach of our team of engineers, environmental scientists, planners, and geographers, in collaboration with military installation personnel, moves us in the right direction.” According to Papelis, “the diversity and excellent working relationship in this interdisciplinary team, made up of faculty, students, and practicing scientists and engineers, was one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.”

According to AGEISS Inc. the tool “integrates the concept of multi-criteria decision analysis, data analytics, geographic information systems, and military land use planning and management into a decision analysis tool that is interoperable with standard desktop software. It will improve DOD warfighter training capabilities by helping installations overcome constraints caused by encroachment.”

“As an NMSU Engineering Alumna and a Small Business Owner in this community where WSMR plays such a huge role in our local identity, I felt that it was only natural that we bring this effort and concept full circle. Our work with AGEISS Inc. on CLEAR resulted in our gaining knowledge of military land management, geospatial technology, and encroachment analysis to support and expand DOD warfighter training capabilities by helping installations overcome constraints caused by encroachment issues,” said Dubbin. “IDEALS has not only expanded our technical capabilities, but through this effort, we also were able to bring the benefits back to our community and have gained an exceptional employee from our partnership with NMSU.”

Brown believes one of the most important long-term outcomes from NMSU’s perspective is that the intern for the project, graduate student Ryan Blickem, secured full time employment with IDEALS, Inc. through the course of this project and is now on staff of the company.

“As a current NMSU geography graduate student, I had the chance to work with some exceptional individuals who mentored me in the sensitivities surrounding military encroachment,” said Blickem. “Through the work performed on CLEAR, I’ve gained valuable insight into encroachment mitigation and the challenges facing our warfighters. The icing on the cake was winning the prestigious Nunn-Perry Award and gaining full-time employment with IDEALS, Inc.”

Brown said neither the success of the project nor the Nunn-Perry Award would have been possible without the outstanding commitment of time and energy that key partners at WSMR made – Joel Giblin, Carol Placchi, and Kristen Hester. Giblin’s read on the project sums up the value of the partnership to WSMR. "The CLEAR project enabled the DOD to collaboratively gain insight with academia and private enterprise, into the complex encroachment issues in the Northern Call-Up Area, the northern most part of WSMR. Data provided in the NCUA is especially important to WSMR for testing our nation’s new weapon systems to include Hyper-Sonics, Precision Fires, and Cruise Missiles."

The prestigious Nunn-Perry Award is named to honor former Senator Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense William Perry. It was first awarded in 1995 to recognize outstanding DOD Mentor-Protégé program teams. The national initiative encourages and incentivizes major defense industry contractors, such as AGEISS, to share their technical expertise and knowledge of government contracting to increase development and technical capabilities of small disadvantaged business subcontractors and new mission partners.

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