Crownpoint, NM – Navajo Technical University was awarded $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support STEM instruction and research capacities. The grant will help expand NTU’s engineering department by introducing a baccalaureate degree program in Environmental Engineering within the coming years. The grant was awarded under the NSF’s Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) that promotes STEM instruction and research. NTU will focus on uranium mine remediation and mitigation with the new program.
Harry S. Whiting II, PE, Industrial Engineering Professor at NTU, is the principle investigator and aims to partner with outside organizations to assist in researching environmental issues on the Navajo Nation. Partners include higher education institutions, such as the University of Idaho and the University of Arizona, and private industry, such as Tetratach, an environmental service company based out of California.
“It’s a daunting task,” said Whiting, noting the amount of data collection and analysis that needs to take place. “Our first priority is to update the maps we are currently using to locate problematic areas.”
The Navajo Nation has numerous uranium mines that have yet to be remediated, most notably the Church Rock uranium mill spill in 1979. The university and its partners will begin locating and mapping locations across the Navajo Nation prior to initiating the remediation process. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.
The grant would help support the Environmental Engineering program over the course of five years as curriculum to aligned with research goals involving the remediation of mines. The program must undergo approval processes through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) as well as the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). Courses for the Environmental Engineering program are projected to begin in the fall of 2020 at NTU’s main campus in Crownpoint, NM.
“I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for the students of the Navajo Nation and Navajo Technical University,” said Whiting in discussing the prospect for developing a new Environmental Engineering program at NTU. “We are building a great Engineering school here. We are small but we have great professors, and I’m really proud of what we have done here.”
Currently, the university offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree and a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science and Natural Resources. NTU also offers engineering focused programs in Pre-Engineering, Engineering Technology, and Chemical Engineering Technology. The university’s Industrial Engineering and Electrical Engineering programs are ABET accredited. To learn more about the NSF grant, contact Harry S. Whiting II, PE, at firstname.lastname@example.org.