EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — New Mexico State University (NMSU) has received a $1.7 million grant to improve internet access across family housing on campus and agricultural science centers, according to a release sent by the university.
The federal grant is being provided by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) on behalf of their “Connecting Minority Communities Pilot” program.
The program is part of the federal “Internet for All Initiative” to connect everyone in America with internet service.
The $1.7 million fund comes from the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021,” which is providing $268 million to eligible HBCUs, tribal colleges, universities and minority-serving institutions to expand internet access.
“Work on the family housing internet access will begin in six months, after historic preservation and environmental protection agencies review the planned installations of hardware on the properties,” the university said.
NMSU says 20 of the student population in Las Cruces campuses live in housing units on the south campus where internet connectivity will be upgraded due to the grant.
“The two-year grant will improve broadband accessibility in our south campus family housing in Sutherland, Cervantes and Tom Fort Villages first,” said Diana V. Dugas, NMSU IT director of instruction and research support.
The funds will not only go towards family housing but also provide internet access to certain agricultural science centers in the NMSU system.
NMSU Farmington will be the first agriculture science center to get internet access.
NMSU Farmington is part of the “Agricultural Experiment Station” system of research farms located in the Navajo Nation in northern New Mexico.
“During the COVID-19 shutdowns, we saw this firsthand as some NMSU students drove to our parking lot in order to connect with the internet to download homework while studying from home. This raised the question of how NMSU could better serve our community while also advancing opportunities to develop a digitally connected farm,” said Kevin Lombard, professor of horticulture and superintendent of the Farmington Agricultural Science Center.