When budgets are tight and needs are many, companies must be strategic in spending money and energy. When it comes to the best return on investment, educating future leaders tops PNM's list. The UNM Foundation connected PNM to programs aligned with the company's philanthropic goals.

Photo: Electrical and Engineering student Steve Wood sits in a partially completed solar car.

A long-time supporter of the School of Law's Wild Friends program, PNM supports introducing students to the legislative process to help them find their voices and provide a bridge between academic learning and real-world experiences.

Students in the School of Engineering's Solar Car Project use PNM donations to design and race a solar-powered vehicle in national competition. With another donation from PNM, engineering faculty are inventing a residential-scale ice-storage system to reduce energy consumption by air conditioners during peak periods.

"Investing in these programs is a natural fit for PNM's initiatives in renewable energy and as a future investment for New Mexico," said Diane Ogawa, executive director, PNM Resources Foundation.

The 10-student solar car team races this summer against university teams from throughout the nation in the North American Solar Car Challenge.

"These students are learning to optimize solar-cell operations, applying it in real life," said Olga Lavrova, research assistant professor and team leader. "By interfacing with state-of-the-art solar power techniques while using limited resources, they're learning all the applications they'll use as future engineers."

Andrea Mammoli, associate and Halliburton professor, is lead researcher on the residential-scale ice-storage system. PNM's gift will allow Mammoli to implement the prototype system and test it in an experimental solar house the School of Engineering is building in collaboration with the School of Architecture and an investor.

"The challenge will be to make it easy to integrate these units with standard refrigerant AC units or at least allow installation using existing construction techniques," Mammoli said.

To give to any UNM program, call the UNM Foundation at (505) 277-4503 or 1-800-UNM-FUND (866-3863), or visit UNM Fund.

Story by By Christopher Elliott