Two Hispanic researchers honored - Albuquerque Journal

Two Hispanic researchers honored

Rafael Gonzalez
Nic Argibay

Materials scientist Nic Argibay and health and safety senior manager Rafael Gonzalez were honored at the 31st annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference by Great Minds in STEM, a nonprofit organization that recognizes Hispanic leadership and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math.

Argibay received a Most Promising Scientist or Engineer award and Gonzalez received a Luminary award during the society’s annual conference in late September.

HENAAC awards represent Hispanic contributions at high levels of academia, government, military and industry. Luminary honorees are professionals who lead key programs within their companies and who have made significant contributions to the Hispanic technical community as leaders and role models.

Argibay has made significant contributions to the scientific field of tribology, the study of interacting surfaces in relative motion, including the principles of friction, lubrication and wear. He has received more than $7 million in scientific grants and awards leading to groundbreaking discoveries, such as the in-situ formation of diamond-like carbon on platinum-gold substrates and one of the most wear-resistant materials ever tested.

“Ultimately, we developed an alloy that is insensitive to remarkable amounts of temperature and mechanical stress,” Argibay said.

Gonzalez, as a child, loved spending time in his grandfather’s carpentry shop, where he gained mechanical skills and learned life lessons.

“Mi abuelo … taught me that working hard with integrity and doing your best with purpose was the most important thing in life – whether you were a barrendero (street sweeper), engineer or a carpenter like himself,” he said.

His hard work in school paid off when he unexpectedly met the president of the University of Texas at El Paso, who was visiting Gonzalez’s high school to promote a financial assistance program for Mexican students. Gonzalez, who grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, had wanted to study at an American university but could not afford to do so. The morning after graduation, he took the SAT exam, scoring high enough to qualify for the support and acceptance to UTEP, where he ultimately received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.

Deeply committed to STEM education for Hispanics, Gonzalez initiated the first Noche de Ciencias (Science Night) in New Mexico in 2016, which has led to 800 middle school students participating in science and technology activities and 150 parents attending bilingual workshops.

He is currently deputy co-chair of Sandia’s Hispanic Outreach for Leadership and Awareness organization and serves on the boards of directors for New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Foundation.

In 2015, Gonzalez joined Sandia as a research and development manager in Sandia’s Microsystems Engineering, Science and Applications (MESA) center.

He is currently a senior manager for performance assurance and engineered safety to ensure efficient, effective and safe operations across Sandia.

_PhotoCredit”>sandia labs photos/lonnie anderson

Sandia National Laboratories materials scientist Nic Argibay received a HENAAC award for Most Promising Scientist or Engineer from Great Minds in STEM.

Sandia National Laboratories senior manager Rafael Gonzalez was honored as a HENAAC Luminary by Great Minds in STEM.

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