Commerce Department awards $1 million grant to NTU

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON — Navajo Technical University has been selected to receive a federal grant to help construct a center to train students and energy industry workers.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced in a press release on Thursday the Crownpoint-based university will receive $1 million to build a metrology and materials testing center.

Scott Halliday, director of the Center for Digital Technologies at NTU, said the grant, along with a $1.5 million matching fund from the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, will be used to construct the building.

"This funding will set the center in motion," Halliday said in an email on Friday.

The process to hire an architect will start this month, with plans to have one selected by the end of October, Halliday said.

NTU has been working on the project for the last eight years. It includes increasing the university's manufacturing capabilities, dimensional metrology infrastructure and materials science, he said.

"We expect the center will also expand NTU's research activities and be utilized by visiting researchers, which will increase our academic partnerships, Halliday said. "The impact of this funding will help build industry and entrepreneurial opportunities for not only our graduating students, but also displaced coal mine workers,"

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the release the investment is part of the Trump Administration's commitment to coal workers, and to help communities thrive.

"Through this project, Navajo Technical University will help the region diversify and rebound by providing opportunities for local workers," Ross said.

The grant will be distributed under the department's Economic Development Administration, an initiative started last year.

The department announced and started the initiative to assist communities and regions impacted by declining coal activities and programs that support economic diversification, creating jobs, capital investment, workforce development and opportunities for new employment.

Last year, the department awarded $30 million to assist 35 projects in 16 states.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at