SOCORRO, NM June 17, 2003-- On Saturday, June 28, New Mexico Tech will officially welcome to its campus one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious research-based programs for academically gifted teenagers -- the Summer Science Program (SSP) -- as the university celebrates "SSP Day at New Mexico Tech". SSP chose Tech for its first-ever expansion, after 44 successful summers of operation in Southern California.
At 11:30 a.m., New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish and Tech President Dr. Daniel López will help dedicate a new telescope, installed by SSP at the campus observatory. The ribbon-cutting will also be attended by SSP students, faculty, Trustees, news media, and invited guests. Following a buffet lunch, Dr. Paul Gilna of the Center for Human Genome Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory will present a public guest lecture on the Human Genome Project.
SSP, conceived at the beginning of the Space Age in 1959, brings top high school students from around the world to spend their days in college-level lectures on physics, astronomy, math, and computer programming, and their nights observing the speck of light from a distant asteroid. By the end of the sixth week, each team of three students has calculated the asteroid's orbit using the team's own observations, measurements, and software. This summer, 30 young scientists in New Mexico have nearly doubled SSP's enrollment to 64 students, from 14 states and 5 foreign countries.
Students describe SSP as an intense, exhilarating intellectual and social environment, "the educational experience of a lifetime." Emphasis is on teamwork and cooperation; neither grades nor formal credit are given. Seven faculty members are resident with the students. The curriculum also includes guest lectures on a wide range of subjects by prominent scientists and other professionals. Field trips from Socorro will include the Very Large Array (of radio telescopes) and Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot.
Many SSP alumni go on to become leaders in science, business, and other professions. Prominent examples include Mitchell Kapor '66, founder of Lotus Development Corp., Harvard Prof. N. Gregory Mankiw '75, current Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, Dr. Jerry E. Nelson '60, Director for the Center for Adaptive Optics at UC Santa Cruz, Franklin Antonio '69, Chief Scientist at QUALCOMM, Dr. Douglas Richstone '66, Chair of Astronomy at the University of Michigan.
According to the Program's Chairman, Stephen Cotler '60, "We are extremely fortunate to find in New Mexico, and specifically on the Tech campus, the perfect combination of facilities, scientific community, dark skies, and financial support necessary to make this historic expansion possible." Dr. López described SSP as "a welcome and prestigious addition to our University."
SSP is affiliated with several major universities and operated by an independent non-profit corporation, managed and funded by SSP's alumni, with other major support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Mitchell Kapor Foundation. The Socorro campus is also supported by New Mexico Tech, Los Alamos National Labs, Lockheed Martin / Sandia National Labs, and Los Alamos National Bank.