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NSF STEP Guidelines

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) seeks to increase the number of students (U.S. Citizens or permanent residents) receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The STEP Program at UNM’s School of Engineering addresses the needs of student diversity and retention and revolves around the theme of Student-Centered Teaching and Learning.

The Project has the following four components:

  • Mentoring (by Faculty and Peers)
  • Internships
  • Targeted Retention Activities
  • Financial Incentives


  1. STEP students have an opportunity to do an eight-week summer internship with a company/agency or with a UNM faculty member. The internship is paid directly to the students by the UNM STEP Program.
  2. Students must be assigned work that is related to their field of study.
  3. Students are required to turn in an application packet, which includes a current copy of their resume, copy of their unofficial transcripts, a letter of intent (essay describing why they want the internship) and a letter of recommendation.
  4. Students are matched to internships based on their interests and company/agency/faculty needs.
  5. Upon acceptance of the internship, students are required to register at the Office of Career Services and will have the Co-operative Education Experience listed on their transcript.
  6. Students perform research nominally for 30 hrs per week for 8 weeks. They get evaluated by the mentor every 4 weeks and based on the evaluation of participation, they receive a stipend right after the evaluations are submitted. 
  7. STEP students receive two stipends for the eight-week commitment.


In the summer of 2017, 45 engineering and computer science students were placed in internships paid for/facilitated by STEP.

Some of the activities our students are involved in through internships:

  • Radiation detection development and setting up electronics and data acquisition systems.
  • Developing and testing of an astronomical telescope including data collection, analysis, troubleshooting, and process improvement.
  • Conducting experiments to further understand the mineralization of organic cells with silica and other materials.
  • Researching secondary DNA structures and writing a program that can adequately draw them.
  • Testing of optical transceivers and troubleshooting on test data.
  • Research on nuclear energy distribution between fission fragments
  • Research on energy harvesting of ambient radio frequency waves
  • Developing and executing experiments using chemical and biophysical techniques including protein purification and spectroscopic techniques to characterize protein structure
  • Developing high gain, circularly polarized, wide band antennas

Some of the companies/agencies who have hosted interns include:

  • Flow Science
  • Fiore Industries, Inc.
  • Signal Garden
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
  • Los Alamos National Labs
  • Office of the State Engineer
  • OSO BioPharmaceuticals
  • New Mexico Gas Company
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • Oakridge National Laboratories
  • Ideas Engineering and Technology
  • Optomec