UNM STEM Mentoring Program

AFRL Header


          Vist our new home at: 



The UNM STEM Mentoring Program helps UNM STEM undergraduate students build a supportive relationship with a scientist, engineer, or other relevant professional from Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), or other local companies and organizations. Students in the program are matched with a professional mentor and the two of them collaborate on various informal activities to enhance their schooling experience and professional development.
There are numerous benefits to having a mentor. These include, but are not limited to: one-on-one guidance, knowledge, and experience, professional communication and growth, networking, setting measurable goals, motivation, and insight.
Read about some UNM Mentor-Mentee pairs through the STEM Gateway Blog posts "Two-Sides of the Same Coint: Mentor-Mentee relationships" (http://stemgateway.unm.edu/about-us/other-activities/blog/index.html) [note: look back in the archives for both 2015 and 2016]
Additional resources for mentees (and co-mentors): UNM's Mentoring Institude
Mentors from AFRL and SNL organizations are often from engineering, computer science, math, physics, and chemistry backgrounds. Occasionally, we have mentors from biology, psychology, business, and history of science backgrounds. Students outside of these areas can still apply for a mentor and we will do our best to recruit a relevant mentor for the student.
We NEVER have medical professionals serving as mentors. Freshmen and sophomores who are interested in health science can still sign up for a mentor, as early-level students can still gain something from mentors outside of health science. Juniors and seniors would benefit more from mentors within their field. So, juniors and seniors interested in health science may not be matched with a mentor. If you would like to build relationships with a health professional or explore health-related careers, visit the Office for Pre-Health Professions at prehealthprofessions.unm.edu.
The AFRL's mission is leading the discovery, development, and integration of warfighting technologies for United States' air, space and cyberspace forces. Two of AFRL's eight Technology Directorates have headquarters on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM: Directed Energy and Space Vehicles.
The Directed Energy Directorate focuses on four core technical competencies: Lasers Systems, High Power Electromagnetics, Weapons Modeling and Simulation, and Directed Energy and Electro-Optics for Space Superiority. Scientists in this Directorate typically have educational backgrounds in physics, engineering (aeronautical, electrical, computer, mechanical, controls, optical), computer science, mathematics, chemistry, and astrophysics.
The Space Vehicles Directorate's foci include Space-Based Surveillance (space to space and space to ground), Space Capability Protection (protecting space assets from man-made and natural effects), and other defense-related programs such as space power, space environmental effects, and satellite flight experiments. Scientists in this Directorate typically have educational backgrounds similar to that of the Directed Energy Directorate with more emphasis on chemistry and mechanical engineering.
More information at http://www.wpafb.af.mil/AFRL/
Sandia’s mission is developing advanced technologies to ensure global peace and providing technological, scientific and engineering solutions to the nation’s national security problems. Sandia’s main sites are on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico and in Livermore, California.
As a multidisciplinary national laboratory and federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), Sandia accomplishes tasks that are integral to the mission by drawing from deep science and engineering to do the following: anticipate and resolve emerging national security challenges, innovate and discover new technologies to strengthen the nation’s technological superiority, create values through products and services that solve important national security challenges, and inform the national debate where technology policy is critical to preserving security and freedom throughout our world.
Sandia focuses on four core programs: Nuclear Weapons, Defense Systems, Global Security, and Energy and Climate. Sandia’s primary mission is ensuring the U.S. nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, and reliable and fully supporting the nation’s deterrence policy and its nuclear weapons program. Sandia’s science and engineering capabilities include: Bioscience, Radiation Effects and High Energy Density Science, Computer & Information Sciences, Geoscience, Materials Science, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Nanodevices & Microsystems (failure analysis and reliability physics, modeling and simulation, component engineering, testing and packaging) and Engineering Sciences.
Defense Systems & Assessments supports our nation’s military by applying engineering, science, and technology solutions to deter, detect, defeat, and defend threats to our national security.
Sandia’s programs in Global Security range from nonproliferation and global threat reduction to homeland defense and critical asset protection. Science and technology, innovative research, and global engagement are used to counter threats, reduce dangers, and respond to disasters.
For Energy and Climate, Sandia’s Secure and Sustainable Energy Future Mission Area seeks to support the creation of a secure energy future for the U.S. by using its capabilities to enable an uninterrupted and enduring supply of energy from domestic sources, and to assure the reliability and resiliency of the associated energy infrastructure.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-mission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.
The program recruits UNM undergraduate students on a rolling basis. To join the program, students must complete an orientation session and short interest form. Students will not be introduced to a mentor until both items are completed.
Undergraduate student orientation session. Various orientation dates are available. Sign up for a student orientation at stemuniversity.unm.edu. If you cannot attend one of the scheduled orientation sessions, but would still like to join the program, contact Yadéeh Sawyer at yadeeh@unm.edu. To speed up scheduling your orientation session, please provide 2-3 times, Monday-Friday, between 9 AM and 4 PM, that work for your schedule in this email.
Undergraduate student interest form. Complete the student interest form by clicking the “UNM UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT” button at the top of this webpage.
The program recruits recruit professional mentors on a rolling basis. Professional mentors can sign up to be a mentor by completing the electronic mentor interest form by clicking the “PROFESSIONAL MENTOR” button at the top of this webpage. If you prefer to complete a mentor interest form (Micsoft Word; PDF), email completed forms to stem@unm.edu.
Mentors and mentees meet for about an hour a week (preferably an in-person meeting). Meeting times and activities are arranged by the mentors and mentees. Mentorships last approximately a semester, unless both mentor and mentee wish to extend the partnership.
Students are encouraged to work with their mentor on a long-term goal, such as exploring different college majors or STEM fields, applying for internships, getting involved in research, meeting other scientists and engineers, and more.
The STEM Collaborative Center (STCC) helps students identify a goal to work on during orientation. Then, students and their mentors determine which weekly mentoring activities will help students’ achieve their goal(s). A typical activity includes talking over coffee or touring the mentor’s workplace. Meeting times and activities are arranged by the mentors and mentees.
The STCC provides support, including check-in emails and optional activities throughout the year. Upcoming activities, such as laboratory tours and networking mixers, are posted on stemuniversity.unm.edu, and students can register for these events with their netID and password. Mentors are notified of sponsored events via email.
Students must be a US citizen to be matched with a mentor from Air Force Research Laboratory or Sandia National Laboratories. If you are not a US Citizen, you can be matched with mentors from other organizations.
The Air Force Research Laboratory and many of Sandia’s buildings are located on Kirtland Air Force Base, which is considered federal property. Any student interested in visiting AFRL or SNL with the STEM Collaborative must produce proof of U.S. citizenship at least one month prior to the scheduled visit. Further directions regarding base access are provided closer to the scheduled tour dates.
The STCC is located on UNM’s Main campus in Room 211 of the Education Classroom Building, which is north of the Student Union Building (SUB) and north of the tall, tan fountain. Our doors are signed as “STEM Collaborative.”
For more information, contact Yadéeh Sawyer at yadeeh@unm.edu
Please click below to download a form:
1. Orientation Agenda (PDF)
2. Mentee Questionnaire (PDF - editable form)
3. Survive and Thrive Sheet (PDF)
4. Professional Email Writing (PDF)
5. SMART Goals Handout (PDF - editable form)
Optional document: Finding a research mentor (PDF)