New Mexico Small Business Assistance: Solving small business challenges through laboratory expertise SUBMIT request for assistance NMSBA Los Alamos National Laboratory Sandias National Laboratory

News

November 7, 2011
NMSBA Principal Investigators recognized

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program helps hundreds of New Mexico small businesses with their technical challenges each year. Behind the stories of business success are national laboratory Principal Investigators or PIs who directly assist the businesses with testing, design, and access to special equipment or facilities. In November 2011, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) recognized several laboratory PIs who have generously provided free technical assistance to New Mexico small businesses.

Along with his team at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Charles Lucero has assisted NMSBA businesses with concepts, CAD solid models, drawings, and rapid prototype parts. Among other companies, Lucero’s team has helped Feeding for Health, LLC of Santa Fe to design products for premature babies. Founder Chantal Lau requested assistance to design an attachment and valve for baby bottles. Because preemies do not have the oral skills to feed from a bottle, they are often kept for long periods of time in neonatal units where they incur significant expenses. Lucero's team helped advance Lau's original design and produced prototypes using LANL's rapid prototype machines. Lucero has enjoyed explaining the baby bottles on his desk to co-workers. "NMSBA gave us the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary," says Lucero. "It is rewarding to learn about the ideas that other people have and to help make their ideas into reality."

At Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Rick Givler, who specializes in synthetic modeling of physical systems, has worked with several NMSBA businesses to make improvements to their designs of engineered devices.  One such project helped member companies (Atmocean, Inc., NExSW, Inc. and Reytek, Inc.) to evaluate the performance of a wave-driven ocean pump. Computational Fluid Dynamics modeling results were instrumental to these companies in the acquisition of investment funding. In another project, Givler directed design improvements for large-scale equipment used to remediate contaminated soils at oil-well sites while working with Soil Remediation Systems, LLC, CIP, Inc., Decano, Inc., and DB Technologies, all located in the Four Corners area. This effort led to improved system efficiency and better operational safety. “It’s funny that both of these projects found their way to my doorstep without me looking for them,” says Givler. “In retrospect, I have really enjoyed working with these folks; both projects have been very different, but interesting to work on.”

G. Loren Toole of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has assisted 30 NMSBA companies since 2008. Of these, the Coalition of Renewable Energy Landowners (CRELA) stands apart for its potential to grow one of New Mexico’s most promising industries. CRELA is a group of 10 wind power associations in eastern New Mexico representing 2,000 ranchers on over two million acres of land. Toole’s team designed a standard site assessment process to estimate wind development potential. On seven typical ranch properties alone, the team estimates potential for nearly 400 wind turbines and $1.6 billion in capital investment. These results are helping CRELA make an impressive business case to wind developers. Next year, Toole and his team will conduct public trainings on the site assessment process and analytic tools at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari. “I frankly haven’t seen my team so excited about something in years,” says Toole. “The project is inspirational because it helps traditional ranchers stay on their land and make their properties viable in a new economy, even as the cattle and beef industry declines.” CRELA’s Chairman Paul Stout says many of the ranchers involved with the project have lived and worked the land for three and four generations.