The past and future of astronomy in Mexico, drawn by a child from Ciudad Serdàn.
LMT is a research facility which symbolizes the intent of both Mexico and the United States to explore at the frontiers of human knowledge. The commitment to undertake such explorations is critical to firing the imagination of young people in both countries. Some of them will choose careers in science and engineering, and it is in their hands that the economic health and vitality of both societies rests.
Partnerships like the LMT represent the future -- ones in which institutions in the US and other countries work in close partnership to develop the tools of modern science, the technologies of tomorrow, and tomorrow's scientific and technical leaders.
As a consequence, the two institutions place great emphasis on the educational aspects of the collaboration. In addition to training the astronomers who will use the LMT, both UMass and INAOE are independently developing much broader programs focused on the LMT, but aimed at providing education in applied physics and engineering -- fields of critical value to the students and to their nations.
UMass Amherst also hopes to make use of this highly visible bi-national project to develop an educational outreach program in Western Massachusetts. The program is aimed at reaching middle and high school students of Hispanic background, attracting the most talented of them to UMass to work in the LMT and other laboratories, and mentoring them throughout their undergraduate careers. The mix of US and Mexican scientists, engineers and students should provide a rich set of resources from whom they can draw both information and inspiration.
As part of the LMT collaboration, our students and postdocs will spend significant amounts of time in Mexico developing fluency in the Spanish language and gaining a greater awareness for life and traditions outside of the United States. The participants will emerge from this process with scientific, technical, and cultural skills that are central traits in the development of internationally engaged scientists and leaders of current and future international facilities.
The LMT has an active and effective public outreach program in Mexico, based at its Visitor Center within the Centro Cultural Casa de la Magnolia in Ciudad Serdàn, the closest city to the telescope site. The building for the Visitor Center was provided by the local government and reflects the pride and excitement of the Mexican community in the LMT project.