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NMT Approved to Offer New Ph.D. In Cyber Electronic Systems

SOCORRO, N.M. - New Mexico Tech will offer a new state-of-the-art doctoral graduate degree program in electrical engineering this fall - a Ph.D. that fills a critical need and is intended to stimulate economic development opportunities in the state’s technology sector.

Joseph Gabaldon, current grad student in Electrical Engineering, is developing a software-defined radio-based system to discover signals that have a low probability of detection.

The full official name of the program is the Doctorate of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering with Dissertation in Cyber Electronic Systems. New Mexico’s State Board of Finance approved the new offering in Santa Fe on Tuesday, July 18. The program is available to students in time for the start of the Fall 2017 semester.

The approval concludes a year-long effort by New Mexico Tech, spearheaded by Dr. Aly El Osery, chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering. This is the third new Ph.D. program New Mexico Tech has added in the past year. In 2016, the state approved adding Ph.D. programs in biotechnology and mechanical engineering.

"This new degree program is an important educational enhancement to NMT's offerings and to the State of New Mexico," President Dr. Stephen Wells said. "New Mexico and our nation need highly-skilled cyber engineers who can help protect our data delivery systems and who will be part of a future advanced workforce. We have strong support from national laboratories and private firms, which shows the importance of this program."

NMT electrical engineers have developed ahexa-copter drone with an intertial navigation system to enable accurate position and navigation in areas where GPS signals are degraded.

The new program will focus its research efforts on the security and safe operation of computer-based electronic devices that rely on wireless communications, position, navigation and timing. That includes smart phones, radios used by first responders or soldiers, smart infrastructure, civilian and military vehicles that navigate on land, sea or air, and other wireless devices.

"We are concerned with maintaining the integrity of those communications on which modern devices rely," Wedeward said. "Practically all of our modern electronics are computer-based and require wireless interfaces for voice, data, timing and GPS. We want to know if someone is trying to jam communications, spoof a signal needed for navigation, or degrade the information transmitted in any way."

The proposal to the State Board of Finance was supported by Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, research organizations at New Mexico Tech, Department of Defense, and private technology firms in New Mexico and around the nation.

"We have existing support and research proposals out there, and we are ready to go," Wedeward said. "We expect to provide doctoral-level education and research that enhances the intellectual capital of New Mexico and contributes to the security of the nation."

Wedeward said the addition of a new doctoral program – along with the two additional programs added in 2016 –supports the university’s five-year Strategic Plan initiative to become a Ph.D.-granting institution. Tech must grant an average of 20 doctoral degrees per year to achieve that status.

- NMT -