A UNM alumnus has led a project to protect American soldiers.

MRIGlobal recently announced the end of development for the Individual Protection Ensemble Mannequin System, headed by Mark Abashian, who obtained his M.S. in geochemistry from UNM.

“The Individual Protection Ensemble Mannequin System was something that the Department of Defense needed,” Abashian said.

Abashian works at MRIGlobal as senior section manager for Energy, Environmental and Transportation Systems.

The purpose of the IPEMS is to protect the war fighter from potentially dangerous chemicals and materials.

“They (the Department of Defense) want the capability to be able to safely and scientifically test these individual protection ensembles, which is basically equipment that protects individuals from a harmful substance,” he said.

Abashian stressed how MRIGlobal has been able to serve the American soldier by constructing the Mannequin and containment chamber.

“Our greatest satisfaction is how we have made a contribution to helping the war fighter,” Abashian said. “There is so much going on right now with us putting our soldiers into harm’s way, and this is one small way that we can help ensure that they are as safe as they can possibly be when in a conflict zone. We are helping the cause.”

MRIGlobal is a company that is known for doing work in the science and engineering field for the betterment of every individual, Abashian said.

“We do science and engineering for the betterment of mankind,” he said. “We do a lot of applied research, testing and evaluations for basic technologies, which we then apply in new and innovative ways. We are a not-for-profit company.”

Abashian said that UNM students can learn from this in a variety of ways.

“It’s been an interesting path that I have taken with my career,” he said. “It is a lesson particularly when it comes to contract research. Your career will migrate, and go where there is need.

For example, my background in environmental and nuclear research has led me to work for the Department of Defense, which then linked into the IPEMS.”

Shanahan Wilson, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, said Abashian’s story is something he learned from.

“It shows that people who graduate from UNM can go on to do bigger and better things,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he whole-heartedly backs any program that helps the troops.

“With a parent formerly in the military, it brings me comfort to think that our troops will be better protected and given a better chance to return home to their families as a result of this program,” Wilson said.

As of now, MRIGlobal’s involvement in the IPEMS program has ended, but the company hopes to pick up some work with the project in the next calendar year, Abashian said.

“Technically, our contract has ended, but the facility is not fully operational,” Abashian said. “We would like to help the system become fully operational. Hopefully, there will be funds available in the next calendar year to make that happen.”