March 22, 2005

Sandia helps 278 state businesses in 2004 through New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program

Cumbres and Toltec engine Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad — One of the recipients of technical assistance from Sandia through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories assisted 278 New Mexico small businesses in 2004 thanks to a tax credit passed by the New Mexico Legislature.
This was Sandia’s fourth year of providing technical assistance to small businesses in the state.

The New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program allows Sandia to utilize a portion of its gross receipts taxes paid each year to provide technical advice and assistance to New Mexico small businesses. During 2004, Sandia received $1.8 million in tax credits.

There are few requirements for small-business participation — mainly that assisted companies must be for-profit New Mexico small businesses, and that the help is not available for a reasonable cost through private sources.

Ten success stories from the 2004 NMSBA program year were highlighted at a recent event in Santa Fe. Sandia’s principal investigators were also recognized. Detailed summaries are available on request.

Olona Inc. in Albuquerque develops motorized fishing reels for the physically challenged. For 18 years, Gerald Olona has worked on a design that could be used with one arm, by people or children without the strength required to use traditional reels. Sandia principle investigator Herman Molina evaluated a variety of motor and gearing combinations. The project focused on improving the existing design. The reel needed to be smaller and lighter, with strong torque and longer battery life. The revised design weighed four ounces and had the required torque and battery life. This assistance allowed Olona Inc. to move forward with the development of the product. Olona has identified a manufacturer and are in discussions with several companies for distribution rights.

Petty Farm and Ranch in Clovis, N.M., owner Dale Petty, created an automatic tire pressure maintenance system. The system consists of a rotary union attached to the center of an automobile wheel, which is mounted on a pedestal containing an air compressor, pressure switch, and vent valve, with associated tubing and wired connections to a control box with an internal pressure sensor. Sandia principal investigator is John Browning.

MesoSystems serves the security industry with innovative products for bio-threat surveillance and incident response. Sandia principal investigator Phil Hargis provided information on bio-aerosol properties and suggested changes to improve the AirSentinel instrument that MesoSystems is currently developing. Hargis reviewed the technology and made recommendations regarding optical layout.

Controlled Agriculture Environment, a cooperative of New Mexico agricultural researchers and companies, collaborated on evaluations in Albuquerque’s south valley and Santa Teresa, N.M., to test the ability and efficiency of hydroponic forage to sustain livestock. Sandia principal investigators are Phillip Pohl and Ron Pate. During the 2004 NMSBA project, structures were erected and readied for full-scale tests.

Process Equipment and Services Company, Inc. (PESCO) in Farmington is a manufacturer of oil and natural gas production equipment. New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership serves as the principle investigator. The New Mexico MEP is part of a national network of manufacturing centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers. As a result of the assistance provided by New Mexico MEP, PESCO has increased customer satisfaction through improved on-time deliveries. PESCO has reduced non-value added costs, thus increasing profits.

Surfect Technologies in Albuquerque is an electrochemical processing and equipment company pioneering the transition to lead-free solder and copper interconnects for emerging wafer-level integrated circuits and microsystems packaging. Surfect has developed novel combinatorial electrochemical metal deposition technologies that break through technical limitations encountered at wafer scale. Sandia principal investigator Paul Vianco applied metallurgical expertise in the joining technologies, which was directly applicable to the product Surfect was pursuing. Sandia also provided the critical analysis techniques, including metallographic cross sections and scanning electron microscopy, that provided the data to support Surfect.

New Mexico Childcare Association (NMCCA) represents hundreds of New Mexico small businesses in the early care and education fields. Sandia principal investigator Shannon Delgado managed the project costs, schedule, and conformance to requirements. The Sandia team assisted NMCCA in several projects, including improving disinfectant solutions, security, and quality management systems.

Drennan Mechanical Services in Hobbs, N.M., a small air conditioning and heating service company, discovered a need for a room thermostat to meet the needs of the visually and physically handicapped. The design idea includes voice-activated controls to change the comfort level settings and provide current setting information in a stand-alone wall unit. Although voice-activated models do currently exist, they must be networked to a home automation system for use. The company desired a simpler consumer model. Sandia principal investigator Lisa Marron helped develop a preliminary hardware design for a demonstration unit, utilizing a voice-activated speech evaluation board and commercial off-the-shelf parts.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, N.M., is a 64-mile narrow gauge railroad system and is the most authentic steam era railroad in North America. It is jointly owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico and runs between Antonito, Colo., and Chama, N.M. Sandia principal investigators are Ted Borek and Don Susan. Borek gathered samples of the metals that needed to be analyzed for materials characterization to increase the life of the railroad system. He and his team then dissolved the metals in acid and ran them through instruments to determine iron, chromium, and nickel content. Susan and Borek tested the materials in Chama for hardness. Collectively with the team, they were able to provide the railroad with the materials analysis and characterization they needed so that they could move forward with repairs to locomotives.

Figaro Systems, Inc. in Santa Fe is a design engineering company that specializes in electronic text delivery systems for the performing arts. On request of The Santa Fe Opera, Figaro Systems developed a patented system of electronic titles called SimulText®. SimulText allows a musical performance’s text to be displayed in any of eight languages on monitors as it is being performed. Sandia principal investigator is Richard Shagam. Sandia provided concept generation and design/analysis assistance to Figaro Systems to solve a stray light problem with a subtitle projection system for the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts. Shagam designed a mirror/baffle system that intercepted the unwanted light and, incidentally, provided an enclosed path in the followspot projection booth that would prevent the followspot operators from obstructing the beam and suffer a possible exposure to an eye hazard.

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia media contact: Michael Padilla,, (505) 284-5325

Sandia Small Business Assistance Program contact: Mariann Johnston,, (505) 284-9548,