EVENT: Francisco Javier Mendieta, director-general of the Mexican Space Agency, will speak on “Challenges & Opportunities of a Newly Created Space Agency: Advancing Technology for the Good of Humanity.”

WHEN/WHERE: 4-5:30 p.m. Monday, March 2, in the Calit2 auditorium (grid H8, bldg. 325 on campus map: http://communications.uci.edu/documents/pdf/UCI_14_map_campus_core.pdf)

INFORMATION: Media planning to attend should contact Cathy Lawhon at 949-824-1151 or clawhon@uci.edu. Attendance and parking in the Anteater Parking Structure (grid H9 on campus map) are complimentary for media who RSVP in advance.

BACKGROUND: Mendieta’s visit is at the invitation of Isaac Scherson, UC Irvine professor of computer science, and under the auspices of UCI’s Office of Global Engagement. It’s part of an ongoing effort by the Mexican government to develop its space agency. Mendieta’s two-day agenda will include discussions on research collaboration and the role of Mexican engineers and scientists. The goal is to expand the labor pool of Mexicans trained in aerospace. Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will also attend.

The Agencia Espacial Mexicana, Mexico’s space agency, was created in 2010 to promote academic and industrial activity in Mexico related to space sciences and to contribute to the country’s scientific, technological, industrial and economic development. One of its priorities is to explore the use of satellite technology to track the effects of global warming, to predict the spread of disease, and to link global telecommunications networks.

In the next few years, foreign direct investment in Mexican aerospace is expected to increase by 400 percent, and the number of workers in the sector is expected to grow by 300 percent. Mendieta and his deputy director of education, Carlos Duarte, will address some of the challenges Mexico faces, including cultivating a world-class workforce and leveraging the potential of universities to spur innovation-based business in Mexico.