ARROWHEAD CENTER September 2015 Newsletter

A Note from the Director

With the fall semester underway, we at Arrowhead Center are very excited to see where the coming academic year will take us. NMSU is back at full strength, with first-class researchers and students working together on ideas with the potential to change the world. Arrowhead also continues to work with our off-campus partners, assisting them as they bring discoveries to market and grow thriving businesses.

As you will read, a company developed with the guidance of Arrowhead Technology Incubator has been selected to participate in a highly competitive program that will bring its water and energy solutions to broader markets. Remote Well Solutions is one of just 12 companies in the U.S. selected for this prestigious program, and we offer them our congratulations.

You will also read about Arrowhead student employee and NMSU Innovation Fellow Shanta Thoutam, who participated in a recent innovation event at the White House after spending her summer advising five startup companies in a high-profile incubator in Syracuse, NY. We are glad to have Shanta back for another year at Arrowhead, along with her fellow students, who represent some of our greatest assets.

Finally, please take a moment to browse our recently-published FY 2015 Annual Report, available here.

It offers a look at a number of our recent highlights in technology and business development, student entrepreneurship, and the further development of an innovation economy for our region.

We look forward to sharing with you stories of the innovative people and products we work with at Arrowhead. We are confident that the 2015-2016 academic year will be one of our brightest yet.

Kathy Hansen

Director and CEO of Arrowhead Center


Date: 08/06/2015

Writer: Linda Fresques, 575-646-7416,

The wide-ranging talents of innovators from across the country were showcased earlier this week at the first-ever White House Demo Day. Innovators from around the country joined President Barak Obama to demo their individual success stories and show why every American should have the opportunity to pursue bold, game-changing ideas. Among those invited to participate in the event was New Mexico State University electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate Shanta Thoutam, also a University Innovation Fellow.

New Mexico State University electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate Shanta Thoutam, who is a University Innovation Fellow, visited the 1776 DC Co-Working Space as part of the first-ever White House Demo Day to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. (Courtesy photo)

Thoutam is one of six NMSU University Innovation Fellows who are part of a cohort of 300 students from 115 higher education institutions across the United States under the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter). The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools.

Thoutam along with other fellows were invited to the celebration and were broadcasted from the 1776 DC Co-Working Space while talking about what they are doing on campus to improve their respective university innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems. A startup hub, 1776 DC offers worldwide access to the powerful Washington, D.C. region.

“My experience of visiting the 1776 global incubator’s co-working space was mind boggling. It housed so many temporary and permanent members who are working on startups to transform industries such as education, energy and sustainability and health all having the potential of impacting millions of people,” said Thoutam.

As part of the celebration, some 30 educational institutions, including NMSU, collectively signed a letter of commitment addressed to President Obama emphasizing their goal to provide all students on campus, regardless of major, with access to innovation and entrepreneurship learning opportunities.

“Our nation’s higher education institutions have long held great economic potential.

Higher education spending on research and development in FY2013 totaled $67.2 billion. This resulted in more than 24,500 patent applications and 43,300 licenses, a 20 percent increase in new commercial products from the year prior. While the primary purpose of academic research remains the education of America’s next generation of scientists and engineers, it is vital that our innovations are commercialized so they may benefit society and create economic opportunity,” read the letter.

Accompanying the letter were statements of commitment from the educational institutions, including one from NMSU signed by Garrey Carruthers, Chancellor, and University Innovation Fellows Shanta Thoutam, Brendan Sullivan, Jamie Valesquez, Ember Krech, Karl Johannes and Marcio Garcia.

The NMSU letter noted accomplishments on campus that have already supported innovation, including creation of the Aggie Innovation Space, available to students campuswide; support for student business startups at the Studio G Incubator; and participation in the EpiCenter Pathways to Innovation program to deploy innovation education throughout the engineering curriculum.

The University Innovation Fellows are a national community of students in engineering and related fields who work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future. To accomplish this, the Fellows advocate for lasting institutional change and create opportunities for students to engage with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation at their schools.

“The team of University Innovation Fellows at NMSU is championing a student-led movement to build a community of innovation and entrepreneurship across the College of Engineering,” said Edward Pines, Industrial Engineering department head and co-lead for NMSU’s Pathways to Innovation funded by NSF. “They bring unique backgrounds and enthusiasm to catalyze student engagement as agents of change.”

Said Thoutam, “Over the summer, I definitely learned a lot about startup and entrepreneurial culture and certainly will bring my first-hand experiences and ideas to enlighten my peers who can join us in building a viable and sustainable innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus of NMSU. I am quite positive about adding value to my UIF project and also to Arrowhead Center’s Launch program by implementing advanced techniques that I learned over summer to promote tech transfer and commercialization mindset of not only the students, but also the faculty members.”


LAS CRUCES >> When Logan Howard, 26, and Saba, 32, two studio artists from West End Art Depot, opened Barricade Culture Shop, a local skateboard, paint and clothing store at 608 S. Solano Drive in February, they said it was a shot in the dark that they had to take.

“We have an addiction to painting and skating and there is no locally-owned skate shop or paint shops that offer quality artist paint, so we took those two factors and put our money together and this spot came as a blessing from a friend who has a shop down here,” said Saba, who goes by only one name.

Along with high-quality aerosol paint and a few brand name skateboards, like Chocolate and DGK, Barricade Culture shop offers what Howard and Saba call “homegrown products,” including jewelry, screen-printed T-shirts and other products made by local and regional artists.

Jett Loe–Sun-News Boards with custom-made graphics are lined up on a wall of the Barricade Culture Shop.

“It’s a storefront for (artists) to offer the goods they make and we keep track of their sales and then break off a consignment,” Saba said.

Barricade also offers homegrown skateboards, including the shop’s own boards and New Mexico-based brands like Decent Skateboards, Shotgun, Orange Curb and Dirtbag. Saba said they can also order more brand name skateboards online for customers who want them.

But Barricade is more than just a skate and paint store. Customers who venture past the front section of the store will enter a hallway that turns into a gallery, where local artists can showcase their work. A screen printing and art studio are also located in the back portion of the shop, along with a lounge area, where kids can hang out and play video games. Walk out the back door and there’s an enclosed outdoor area for skateboarders and hip hop dancers to practice and walls designated for aerosol art.

“It’s called Barricade Culture Shop because it’s the culture of skateboarding, the culture of hip hop,” Saba said. “A lot of people think that the culture of skateboarding is destructive in terms of property — the same with the culture of graffiti. It can be of course, but we also like to think of it as a remedy to a lot of aggression.”

Saba said the name ‘barricade’ refers to the barricades that are set before young people and people in general.

“As a skateboarder, you embrace the barricade,” he said. “You grind on it. As an artist, you beautify it. So that’s what we want to instill in the youth. This is a positive outlet for expression. Of course, we offer spray paint and we offer a designated area to paint so they don’t get in trouble or anything like that. And we also offer them a place to skate.”

The outdoor area at Barricade, and the surrounding streets, also serve as a music venue for events where live bands perform while selected featured artists demonstrate their art skills with spray paint, Saba said.

“It’s a good flow of art through your ears, through your eyes, through your nose,” he said. “It’s a great experience.”

Jett Loe–Sun-News Barricade Culture Shop co-owner Saba has a laugh behind the store’s counter.

On top of all of this, Barricade is also working with the City of Las Cruces Parks and Recreation Department to host community gatherings that bring more attention to the culture of skaters and artists, Howard said. In June, Barricade and Parks and Recreation organized a Skate Jam at the Las Cruces Skate Park, giving kids a safe place to skate and practice their art.

“Las Cruces has always had a skate culture, but it hasn’t got the spotlight it’s deserved, so I think that’s one thing that Barricade is helping to do,” Howard said.

Other plans in the works include offering skateboard lessons, painting lessons and break dance and hip hop lessons for kids after school, or anyone else interested in picking up a new skill, Wead said.

Outside of the office

Outside of running Barricade Culture Shop, Saba said he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, ages 10 and four months.

“That’s my life — them and this place, painting and printing,” he said. “What’s great and why I’ve chosen this lifestyle is that (my family) can come and hang out with me here, versus working for another company. They come and hang out and it’s definitely a family affair. That’s the biggest perk of owning and running your own business in my opinion.”

Howard, who also spends much of his time at the shop, painting or skating, said he likes to hang out with his dog Salvador, a blue healer/pit bull terrier, and his girlfriend.

“(My girlfriend) makes art as well, so we have a studio at home,” he said. “We usually work on other stuff. She’s a book maker so we’ve been working on making sketchbooks to sell here and painting and writing and stuff.”

For more information about Barricade Culture Shop and it’s services, call 575-312-9271 or 505-261-6103 or visit Barricade Culture Shop on Facebook.

Alexia Severson may be reached at 575-541-5462.


The New Mexico State University College of Engineering is one of four partner universities in a new National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center to pioneer advances in geotechnical engineering that promise solutions to some of world’s biggest infrastructure development and environmental challenges.

NMSU Civil Engineering Professor Paola Bandini works with students on transportation projects. Bandini is co-principal investigator for a new bio-inspired NSF Geotechnical Engineering Research Center. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The consortium of university, industry and government partners, led by Arizona State University, has been awarded $18.5 million to establish the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG) to expand the emerging field of biogeotechnical engineering.

CBBG’s researchers will focus on “nature-compatible” approaches to boosting the resiliency of civil infrastructure, improving the effectiveness of environmental protection and ecological restoration methods, and developing ways to make infrastructure construction and natural resource development operations more sustainable.

NMSU Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Paola Bandini, CBBG co-principal investigator and lead of the Center’s work at NMSU, said, “We are looking to create and implement technology that mimics or employs methods developed and perfected by nature over thousands of years to solve complex engineering problems. The ground is our engineered system.”

Along with ASU and NMSU, the Center’s university partners also include the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, Davis. CBBG’s director is ASU Regents’ Professor Edward Kavazanjian, Fulton Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

Engineers and scientists at these four institutions will collaborate to investigate novel methods to use or emulate biological processes for engineering the ground in ways that reduce construction costs while mitigating natural hazards and environmental degradation.

NMSU’s Bandini will lead the Center’s efforts on infrastructure construction, one of four research thrusts of the program.

Bandini has 13 years of geotechnical engineering research and teaching experience. Her research has focused on the application of experimental and numerical methods to geomechanics. Her current research interests include engineering properties of desert and diatomaceous soils, erosion control measures for transportation infrastructure, and sustainable use of materials in civil engineering. As a PI, she has managed more than $2.2 million in grants and contracts from state agencies and private industry. She leads the Geotechnical Instrumentation and Modeling Committee of the Transportation Research Board.

A multidisciplinary team of nine NMSU researchers specialized in civil engineering, environmental engineering, computer science, geological sciences and biology will participate in various CBBG projects.

“It is a great accomplishment that a team of multidisciplinary faculty at NMSU is part of a multi-institutional NSF Center that will advance knowledge in bio-inspired and bio-mediated geotechnical engineering. This is a wonderful opportunity to be able to bring together a diverse team of faculty and students,” said Martha Mitchell, NMSU College of Engineering associate dean of research.

NMSU’s Arrowhead Center will help implement technology transfer and seek patents for technologies developed through CBBG’s research at NMSU.

Melding nature and technology

CBBG’s researchers will endeavor to either employ or emulate biological processes in developing innovative geotechnical methods and technologies.

Much of CBBG’s work will concentrate on developing bio-inspired and bio-mediated methods of strengthening soils as a way to produce more solid ground for building foundations and to prevent erosion that threatens human health, the environment and infrastructure systems.

Researchers, for instance, will explore the use of microbial organisms to help stabilize soil, making it more resistant to erosion and the destructive forces of earthquakes, and help remove contaminants from the ground.

Other efforts will involve mimicking the performance of tree roots in their natural ability to stabilize soil to design more efficient soil-reinforcement and foundation systems for buildings, bridges and other infrastructure.

CBBG’s researchers also will seek to devise technologies that match some of the subterranean earth-moving and stabilization skills of small mammals and burrowing insects such as ants, which are a hundred times more energy-efficient at tunneling than our current technology. They excavate very carefully and their tunnels almost never collapse. If their methods could be mimicked, they might be used to make underground mining safer.

Similarly, if engineers could design a probe with sensor technology and guidance systems that effectively digs through soil like a mole, it could significantly improve subsurface investigation and characterization to construct more resilient roads, bridges, dams, power plants, pipelines and buildings, and more efficient oil-drilling and mining operations.

Progress in biogeotechnical technologies and engineering also could lead to significant improvements in methods of cleaning up environmental contaminants and restoring land denuded by erosion or industrial-scale resource extraction.

Collaborative efforts will achieve global reach

A range of expertise across engineering and science disciplines will be needed to better understand the nature of the biogeochemical processes on which the Center’s work will focus.

“The level of complexity of the research problems to be addressed by CBBG requires the collaboration of large expert teams and access to state-of-the-art labs and other resources across campuses of the partner universities and industry affiliated to the Center,” said Bandini.

The potentially global impacts of CBBG’s work have attracted more than a dozen companies and state government agencies to sign on to the Center’s industrial affiliates program to support the research. They are joined by 15 universities from around the world to collaborate with CBBG in research and education programs.

A number of agencies that manage large public infrastructure systems — including the Arizona and New Mexico Departments of Transportation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Port of Los Angeles — have expressed interest in collaborating with the Center on research and field testing.

Education outreach key to Center’s mission

The CBBG’s mission also extends to expanding education in bio-geotechnical engineering and science, as well as promoting diversity within the profession through programs aimed at K-12 schools, community colleges and university undergraduates and graduates.

“NMSU will also lead the diversity and pre-college education programs for the Center,” said Bandini.

At NMSU, Mitchell will serve as director of CBBG’s Diversity program, along with the diversity program coordinator Michele Auzenne, assistant director for the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation based at NMSU. NMSU College of Education STEM Outreach Director Susan Brown will be the CBBG’s pre-college director.

The program will include development of geotechnical engineering educational material for undergraduate and graduate courses. Mentoring, internship and professional development programs will be part of the Center’s efforts to train a workforce equipped with the skills to put CBBG’s research into practice.

Initial NSF funding will support the new Center for five years. NSF support can be extended for a second five-year period, but after that time the Center would be expected to become a self-supporting enterprise.

Read more about the center on the CBBG website here


Date: 08/24/2015

Writer: Amanda Bradford, 575-646-1996,

A company developed with support from New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center technology incubator has been selected for an entrepreneurship program with an elite investment company focused on addressing water and energy problems.

Remote Well Solutions, which produces fully automated, off-grid water pumping systems that allow ranchers to reduce costs related to time, fuel, water and maintenance, is one of 12 companies from around the United States – including three from New Mexico – to be selected for the Village Capital Water US 2015 program. The six-month program aims to support entrepreneurs in addressing global water insecurity issues through technology.

Mike Lisk, owner of Cloudcroft-based Remote Well Solutions, said his company focuses on the development of automated water production and distribution systems specifically engineered for the requirements of off-power grid applications. The systems use a propane generator with an intelligent control to sense water levels, turning on and off as needed. The systems’ capacity to respond automatically allows ranchers to reduce costs and water waste.

Village Capital operates business development programs all over the world for early stage entrepreneurs in the areas of agriculture, education, energy and water, financial inclusion, and health. The Water US 2015 program, based in Albuquerque, is a partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, the Community of Albuquerque, BSP Fund, the Tecovas Foundation and New Belgium Family Foundation.

“New Mexico is not new to water issues,” said Dorian Rader, senior associate of the Water US 2015 program. “Albuquerque’s mayor, Richard Berry, and program supporters recruited the accelerator to town in an effort to make the state a center of excellence for water technologies.

“We chose the 12 most innovative and promising water tech start-ups in the world and were so excited that three of them were already here in New Mexico, including Remote Well Solutions.”

Zetdi Sloan, director of Arrowhead Technology Incubator, said water and energy technology is a key area of focus for the incubator, and Village Capital’s presence in New Mexico confirms that the state is becoming a hub of water technology commercialization.

“This is a great opportunity for Remote Well Solutions,” Sloan said. “Mike will be connecting to mentors all over the world for networking. He’ll be getting tremendous global exposure for his company.”

The 12 companies in the program, which focus on everything from desalination and filtration to hydropower technology, will compete for two peer-selected investment awards of $50,000 each, while also receiving business development training and one-on-one time with mentors, industry experts, investors, top local business leaders and potential customers.

Lisk credits Arrowhead Center with making the connections that landed his company on Village Capital’s radar.

“Arrowhead Center is the conduit to these opportunities,” Lisk said. “We were fighting an uphill battle with this company until we got involved with Arrowhead – then all of a sudden we found a niche.”

The Village Capital program consists of four intensive, four-day workshops over the course of six months. Lisk attended the first of those in Albuquerque in July, and was impressed by the diversity of the water technology companies represented and the caliber of the mentorship he’s already received.

The program will culminate in a venture forum in Albuquerque in November, when the tech companies will each have their moment in the spotlight, pitching their businesses to hundreds of investors.

“We’re being coached on how to present,” Lisk said. “We have limited time, so we have to get up and tell our story and get the most out of each minute.

“Arrowhead Center continues to really cultivate the ground for these kinds of ideas,” Lisk continued. “I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

For more information about Arrowhead Center, visit For more information about Village Capital, click below.


Studio G Networking Hours

When: Every Friday

Where: Studio G, Academic Research A Bldg

Time: 2:00PM - 3:00PM

2015 Las Cruces Young Professionals Caffeinated Conversations

When: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Where: The Bean Cafe of Mesilla, 2011 Avenida de Mesilla

Time: 8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Business Development Workshop

Steps to Starting Your Business

When: Thursday, September 17, 2015

Where: DACC Workforce Center, 2345 E. Nevada Ave

Time: 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Startup Las Cruces

Expert Advice from a Business Lawyer: How to properly set up and run a business

When: Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Where: The Game Sports Bar and Grill, 2605 S. Espina St., Las Cruces, NM

Time: 12:00 PM

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