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New Smith’s store donates to school supply drive; web tool for teacher collaboration; record amount pledged to employees' scholarship drive
August 1, 2014
Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Elena Guardincerri (r) and undergraduate research assistant Shelby Fellows (l) prepare a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography machine.

Smith’s Food and Drug officials, along with Los Alamos County Councilor Fran Berting, cut the grand opening ribbon for the new Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos. Smith’s is partnering with the Lab's Community Programs Office for this year’s school supply drive.


  • Community Programs Director
  • Kurt Steinhaus
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New Smith’s Marketplace celebrates opening with donation to Los Alamos National Laboratory school supply drive

Lab's Community Programs Office presented with $1,000 gift card

Smith’s Food & Drug opened its first Marketplace in New Mexico on the Trinity Site in Los Alamos on July 16. The expanded multi-department store format offers a wide selection of specialty foods, clothing, home goods, health care items, school and office supplies and a drive-through pharmacy.

The development of this cornerstone retail complex—a $30 million construction project that utilized numerous local contractors—has immediate positive economic impacts. More than 200 new associates have been hired, and the lease payments will generate at least $350,000 annually for the Los Alamos School District.

To celebrate the opening, Smith’s is contributing a $1,000 store gift card to the Laboratory’s School Supply Drive. “We are thrilled to partner with Smith’s for this year’s drive. Now through August 13, Smith’s customers can support the drive by donating school supplies in the collection boxes at the Marketplace,” stated Kurt Steinhaus, Director of the Lab’s Community Programs.

As part of the grand opening, Smith’s invested $10,000 in local nonprofit organizations. Since 2006, Smith’s has donated more than $500,000 to schools in Los Alamos. Other School Supply Drive partners include CNSI, Cray Research, Navarro Engineering and Del Norte Credit Union.

Math and Science Academy launches new web-based resource for teachers

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Math and Science Academy (MSA) just introduced a whole new way for northern New Mexico teachers and principals to collaborate. MOOC, which stands for Massive Online Open Courses, is a web-based resource that allows users to access high quality workshops and course materials. The initiative was rolled out during the three-week MSA Summer Institute this past month.

Teachers and principals from six Bureau of Indian Education schools convened for the MSA’s rigorous Summer Institute this year. “We surprised them with iPad Minis on their first day,” states Dr. Lorenzo Gonzales, MSA instructor. “They were thrilled. The iPads were loaded with mathematics apps and productivity training recorded by our staff.”

The iPad Minis were provided by Chevron, a corporate sponsor, and are intended to promote year-round collaboration between MSA participants alongside the new MOOC portal. With the new collaborative technology made available to them, teacher participants will now be able to share files via AirDrop from their iPads and compare notes on how their students are engaging with the mathematics being taught all year.

Now in its fifteenth year, the MSA program delivers over 130 hours of formal professional development for elementary teachers via intensive summer and weekend institutes and hands-on coaching.

Northern New Mexico student futures impacted by Lab-supported STEM initiatives

The Laboratory is wholly committed to inspiring the youth of today to lead in the areas of technology and scientific discovery tomorrow. As part of our mission to engage students in STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, we have found that bringing about change in a student’s life begins with the basics, and we are actively equipping them with the skills and knowledge to succeed.

Once students have the tools they need, they can focus on learning. Their educational journeys frequently begin with a fascination in one of the STEM fields that is often nurtured through one of the many Laboratory-supported education programs. For example, students may have the opportunity to work side by side with an engineer mentor while building a Future City model, or they may learn how to use Sim City software or learn programming skills as they build their robot for the RoboRAVE International competition. And, this year, a new opportunity to build an electric car will be presented to students. Key life skills, such as working in teams, developing presentation skills and thinking creatively, can all be accomplished through these science education initiatives that LANL puts forth. Learn more about these programs by visiting the Lab's education website.

Congressman Ben Ray Luján partners with LANL Community Programs Office to hold mobile office hours

Congressman Ben Ray Luján’s staff held mobile office hours on Thursday, June 26, 2014, in six locations, including Los Alamos. Mobile office hours provide constituents who may not have the means or time to travel to one of the district offices greater access to the services that Luján’s staff offer.

Staff members from the Laboratory’s Community Programs Office were on hand to meet with local small businesses and connect them to economic development opportunities offered through the Laboratory. These opportunities include the Lab's Small Business Office Program Office, the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program,  and Los Alamos Connect, a program funded by LANS, LLC, that facilitates business growth through coaching, market intelligence and financing. Local residents were also assisted by Luján’s staff on topics such Social Security benefits, immigration applications, veterans’ services and other federal programs.

Santa Fe company launches app on iTunes

SportXast received assistance from NMSBA Program and Venture Acceleration Fund

SportXast is a local business that was launched at the Santa Fe Business Incubator one year ago after its founders won an economic development competition known as StartUp Weekend Santa Fe.  SportXast now has 10 employees and its first app on the Apple iTunes store. With SportXast, communities are formed around sporting events using GPS technology. Fans can comment, tag, and share their favorite plays of the game via email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook.

“SportXast makes it easy for parents and fans to capture, watch, and share outstanding plays of their favorite athletes. No longer do fans have to struggle with expensive equipment and spend time to edit, upload and share game video. SportXast is the perfect app for coaches, parents, and teams to capture video highlights for sharing, training and more,” states Molly Cernicek, SportXast CEO.

The company made use of Lab-supported economic development programs during its launch. SportXast worked with computer vision experts at Los Alamos through the NMSBA program. They will be integrating computer vision features into the app later this year. The company was also named a 2013 Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) winner, a program administered through Los Alamos Connect that was launched in 2006 by Los Alamos National Security, LLC.

Record $327,000 pledged by Los Alamos National Laboratory employees in 2014 LAESF scholarship drive

Laboratory employees pledged a record $327,000 during the recently completed 2014 Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF) drive. The drive encourages Laboratory employees, retirees and subcontract personnel to donate to a fund that awards college scholarships to northern New Mexico students.

Coupled with $250,000 in matching funds from Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the company that manages the Laboratory, the total amount contributed in this year’s campaign is more than $577,000.

Vigil Enterprises of Santa Fe honored as Small Business Administration’s New Mexico small business subcontractor of the year

Denise Vigil is the proprietor of Vigil Enterprises, a minority- and woman-owned business providing staff augmentation services to government agencies. She launched her company initially in California, moving to Santa Fe after securing her first contract with Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1997.

Vigil and her team continued to work as project consultants for the Laboratory, landing their first prime contract there in 2005. It was the first of more than 100 design services projects Vigil Enterprises coordinated for Los Alamos.

“This outstanding execution rate requires diverse technical skills, new design approaches and close client coordination,” said Chris Fresquez, manager of the Lab's Small Business Program Office, in his letter nominating Vigil as the Small Business Administration (SBA) New Mexico small business subcontractor of the year. “They have built their business on a steadily growing base of successful projects and satisfied clients because of their ability to provide a highly skilled management and technical design team that is dedicated to solving problems and responsive to the client.”

Vigil credits the SBA with helping her and her business evolve. In 2006, she attained 8(a) certification with their assistance. This certification helps small businesses owned by socially disadvantaged individuals compete for government contracts. In New Mexico, the program is available through SBA’s partnership with the New Mexico Procurement Technical Assistance Program, hosted by the New Mexico Small Business Development network.

Vigil was one of nine business owners honored by the New Mexico SBA during Small Business Week this past May. Since 1963, the SBA has celebrated the contribution small businesses make to the national economy with this annual event.