NCDMM Teams Up with UTEP, Regional Stakeholders on Paso del Norte Engine Initiative

JOHNSTOWN, PA — The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) is proud to be part of the winning coalition led by the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Aerospace Center and W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation to receive one of 10 inaugural U.S. National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engine (NSF Engines) awards.  

According to information released by UTEP today, the funds will support the Paso del Norte Innovation for Defense and Aerospace Engine (Paso del Norte Engine). The Paso del Norte Engine hopes to combine innovative concepts with the emerging field of digital engineering and others to help small and medium manufacturers compete in the aerospace and defense markets. This will include erecting public infrastructure, such as a product and process improvement facility, to reduce costs for startups and manufacturers while increasing access to cutting-edge design and testing tools.  

The Paso del Norte Engine will initially receive up to $15 million for the next two years, with a potential NSF investment of $160 million for the team over the next 10 years. 

According to Randy Gilmore, NCDMM Vice President and Chief Development Officer, NCDMM is excited to be part of the Paso del Norte Engine which builds on a decade-long collaboration between UTEP and the County of El Paso, the City of El Paso, Workforce Solutions Borderplex, Rio Grande Council of Governments, El Paso Chamber, and the newest members, El Paso Community College (EPCC) and Spaceport America. 

In 2023, NCDMM founded El Paso Makes, a subsidiary committed to growing the region’s aerospace, defense, and advanced manufacturing ecosystem through education and workforce development, fostering business opportunities, and diversifying the nation’s defense industrial base. NCDMM provides Department of Defense (DoD) contracting assistance to El Paso suppliers, contract vehicles as necessary, and has invested in El Paso’s additive manufacturing capabilities through the America Makes Institute and DRIVE AM at UTEP’s Keck Center. 

“The NSF funding opportunity aligns with the overall mission of the NCDMM organization,” says Gilmore. “We have a long-standing relationship with UTEP, and as a nationally recognized industry leader in executing successful applied research and development projects to improve DoD weapon and support systems, NCDMM is honored to be part of the Paso del Norte team. We will work collectively with stakeholders and industry experts to propel the region forward, foster innovations, and expand our nation’s aerospace and defense sector talent stream.” 

This announcement delivers on the bipartisan priorities outlined in the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” which authorized the NSF Engines program with a focus on market-driven research and development, innovation, translation, and workforce development. The Paso del Norte Engine will address 5 of 14 defense critical technologies identified by the DoD including advanced materials, trusted AI and autonomy, space technology, renewable energy generation and storage, and hypersonics by focusing on the broad dissemination of those innovations for use by small and medium manufacturers. 

To learn more about this award, please view the media release issued by UTEP HERE.