Paso del Norte Innovation for Defense and Aerospace


Key Technology Area



Aerospace Center
City of El Paso
County of El Paso
El Paso Community College
National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining
Rio Grande Council of Governments
Spaceport America
The University of Texas at El Paso
W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation
Workforce Solutions Borderplex

The University of Texas at El Paso

The Paso del Norte IDEA Engine aims to transform the West Texas and Southern New Mexico region into a dynamic aerospace and defense manufacturing hub. By leveraging regional strengths and NSF investment, IDEA Engine seeks to catalyze economic growth, democratize innovation for small and medium manufacturers, and develop a skilled STEM workforce. This initiative addresses critical vulnerabilities in the U.S. defense industrial base, aiming to increase the share of advanced industry jobs and ensure economic prosperity in a region with a significant Latino population.


The IDEA Engine represents a strategic effort to re-imagine and revitalize the Paso del Norte region's economy through advanced manufacturing, particularly in the aerospace and defense sectors. Faced with challenges such as an "unsatisfactory, failing" grade for the nation's defense industrial base and the urgent need for innovation and STEM talent, the IDEA Engine proposes a comprehensive solution. It focuses on developing public innovation architecture and infrastructure to support small and medium manufacturers, thereby strengthening the U.S. defense supply chain. Additionally, it prioritizes talent infrastructure development to provide economic mobility and address the STEM talent crisis. The initiative leverages the Aerospace Center and W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation's research excellence in critical technology areas like advanced materials and AI, alongside significant regional assets like White Sands Missile Range and Spaceport America. Through collaboration with key partners, the IDEA Engine aims to create a scalable model for enhancing the defense industrial base, generating high-paying STEM jobs, and ensuring the region's economic growth and integration into the national security framework.