Electronic engineers Daniel Contreras (left) and Sandoval Begay (right) evaluate new technology for precision agriculture applications.
Published July 9, 2017
ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO – Under teaming agreements established through the Kellogg Advanced Rural Manufacturing Alliance (K.A.R.M.A.) initiative, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to bring entrepreneurial and advanced manufacturing development to the Navajo Nation, Emerging Technology Ventures Inc. recently welcomed Sandoval Begay for a summer internship. Under this opportunity, Mr. Begay will receive industry training and development in robotics and autonomous systems design and production, a key growth industry where the Navajo Nation is focused on developing a career pipeline and pathway. Market opportunities range from precision agriculture, environmental management, and critical infrastructure inspection.
Sandoval comes to his internship with ETV through a long history of work and student development in electronics and electrical engineering. In his professional life, Sandoval worked in a shop environment as an Electronics Technician where he had a multitude of tasks such as overseeing production shop repairs on high-voltage motors and equipment to ensure quality, conducting repair reports after critical jobs for historical documentation, and executing equipment maintenance strategies. Additionally, he worked in the field where he handled all aspects of underground work including cable pulling and instrumentation installation, training and management of a diverse set of employees to ensure adherence to safety procedures and maintaining management expectation of high-quality service standards, and full diagnosis, troubleshooting, and repair verification of electrical equipment and components including circuit breakers and transformers.
As a student at Navajo Technical University, Sandoval worked on a project studying climate change in Crownpoint, New Mexico and the northeastern region of the Navajo Nation. Under this project, he worked with a team on developing and installing ground sensors and weather stations to collect data for climate impact on Piñon pine, a common tree on the lands of the Navajo Nation that has important cultural signification and inhabitant values. The data gathered from the research will give insight to the consequences of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems to model and adapt against the risk of species extinction. His work on this project brings a valuable knowledge of biodiversity and plant species propagation to some of the projects ETV is developing centered around precision agriculture.
“Working here with the ETV team, I learned that manufacturing is not just putting parts together, but implementing ideas, testing these ideas, and then striving to perfect the finished product,” Sandoval said of the opportunities this internship allows him to capture. “Every day I learn more about problem-solving for some rather difficult concepts, and how the lessons learned from these exercises can be utilized to make a better product in the end. It’s also great to see how science, mathematics, and engineering are part of the everyday world and can be put to practical use for things like robotics to help with daily agriculture needs and development. I am excited to be able to use this knowledge to further my development as an electrical engineer and continuing to work with the ETV team in the future when I own my own business.”
“Adding such a dynamic recent graduate with a wealth of knowledge and a history of excellence in both professional and academic pursuits to the ETV team will allow us to move further forward on some key initiatives we are undertaking in precision agriculture”, said Cliff Hudson, ETV CEO. “We greatly look forward to nurturing Sandoval’s growth in robotics and sensor development, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurship, so that he can take these skills back to the Navajo Nation. We anticipate being able to aid in his new budding small business under the Autonomous and Unmanned Systems Cluster (AUSC), our SBA-funded Regional Innovation Cluster when he returns to the Navajo Nation after the summer.”