NTU and Arizona State University collaboration to provide Navajo Nation communities in New Mexico and Arizona improvements in infrastructure, training and investment.
Crownpoint, New Mexico, On May 11, 2023 — Navajo Technical University has been awarded $1 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation's Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines program, for its Indigenous Innovation Network - Advancing Distributed Manufacturing Innovations in Tribal communities (IIN-ADMIT) program. IIN-ADMIT is among more than 40 unique teams to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions.
IIN-ADMIT will involve tribal communities in technology transfer and advanced manufacturing. This initial phase will involve development of partnerships and identification of resources necessary to establish distributed micro-factories and technology centers on the Navajo Nation, which will enable rural and remote Tribal communities to participate in emerging supply chain operations with an initial focus on the space industry. The Navajo Nation, which includes the states of New Mexico and Arizona, will collaborate with principal investigators from Navajo Technical University (NTU) and Arizona State University (ASU) to engage the space industry as an emerging industrial sector in the Southwest.
"Navajo Technical University works closely with tribal schools, communities, and leaders to develop technology-enabled opportunities that promote economic growth in ways that are both consistent with traditional Navajo values and provide exciting new career pathways," says Ragavanantham Shanmugam, the Principal Investigator. "We look forward to joining with colleagues at ASU and all our partners to create a sustainable manufacturing network that reaches well into our remote tribal lands."
The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, working to ensure the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come.
"These NSF Engines Development awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF's vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation."
NTU’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing will serve as the hub of a network of advanced manufacturing sites during the implementation phase of the project. The ASU School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks will equip INN sites with state-of-the-art technology. The ASU Global Center for Technology Transfer will develop a legal and managerial framework that will facilitate the contracting process with prospective industry partners. Building on NTU’s capabilities and the Navajo Nation’s workforce development potential, the team will address the needs and constraints of all participating in the IIN ecosystem while remaining consistent with Tribal cultural values and priorities.
“Economic growth for all is crucial within this framework, and success will be driven by these types of innovative partnerships and collaboration,” said Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise. “We are developing new relationships and building the collective team needed to accomplish the important tasks ahead in manufacturing, technology transfer and workforce development. This NSF award will help us achieve these goals.”
The awardees span a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic areas that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines Development awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation networks within two years to prepare strong proposals for becoming future NSF Engines, which will each have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million.
Launched by NSF's new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation's science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness, and create local, high-wage jobs.
View a map of the NSF Engines Development Awards. More information can be found on the NSF Engines program website.
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Navajo Technical University
Navajo Technical University, like all tribal colleges and universities, grew out of a prayer in the 1960s that envisioned all tribes moving toward self-determination by expressing their sovereignty and establishing their institutions of higher education. Because of this movement, NTU began as the Navajo Skill Center in 1979 to meet the immediate needs of an unemployed population in the Navajo Nation.
Students enrolled to learn the rudiments of a trade graduated and joined the workforce; however, it soon became clear that the students wanted more. In 1985 the Board of Directors changed the Skill Center's name to Crownpoint Institute of Technology, and in November 2006, the Navajo Nation Council approved changing the name to Navajo Technical College. In 2013, NTC became NTU - the first university established in the Navajo Nation.
Today, NTU is one of the nation's premier higher education institutions, providing a unique balance between science and technology and culture and tradition. Much of what guides NTU's success is our mission and identity rooted in the Diné Philosophy of Education.
Arizona State University
Assistant Director, Media Relations
ASU Knowledge Enterprise
Arizona State University, ranked No. 1 “Most Innovative School” in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for eight years in succession, has forged the model for a New American University. Year after year, ASU ranks at or near the top of the list in areas that matter. ASU is a comprehensive public research institution, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves. ASU operates on the principles that learning is a personal and original journey for each student; that they thrive on experience and that the process of discovery cannot be bound by traditional academic disciplines. Through innovation and a commitment to accessibility, ASU has drawn pioneering researchers to its faculty even as it expands opportunities for qualified students, attracting some of the highest quality students from all 50 states and more than 130 nations.