This is your Friday update, which takes a quick look at the week ahead and some developments that El Paso Matters is following.

Streetcar Service Returns: The El Paso Streetcars are back after being temporarily suspended in May on account of the migrants seeking shelter around Sacred Heart Church on S. Oregon Street, which is a part of the streetcar route. The streetcar service resumed on Wednesday. The trolleys run from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday they run from noon to 6 p.m. Streetcar rides are free, and all cars are equipped with ADA accessibility and modern amenities such as free WIFI, air conditioning, and bike racks.

A new collaboration between the University of Texas at El Paso and NASA’s Johnson Space Center was announced Thursday. The speakers were, from left, Monte Goforth, an assistant director of engineering at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston; UTEP President Heather Wilson; Iram Hernandez, UTEP engineering student; Julie Kramer White, JSC engineering director; Ahsan Choudhuri, associate vice president of UTEP’s Aerospace Center; and Andrea Fabila Mireles, a UT Tyler engineering student. The three speakers on the right participated virtually from the JSC. (Daniel Perez/El Paso Matters)

UTEP, NASA Publicize Digital Partnership: The University of Texas at El Paso and NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) announced Thursday a new collaboration that incorporates computing and software tools to enhance and accelerate the design, production, testing, evaluation, modification and maintenance of space exploration systems. UTEP engineering professors will lead the Digital Engineering Design Center (DEDC), an on-site training module at the JSC in Houston. The center will hire Houston area college students for hands-on projects that will teach them the necessary digital engineering skills for aerospace and defense industries. A similar program is underway at UTEP’s Aerospace Center, which will work with NASA engineers to integrate more digital engineering into its design and development processes.

Experts said digitalization cuts back on unnecessary expenses, to include system maintenance, and allows for continuous collaboration among engineers. Among the DEDC’s initial projects is to create a digital system to transform lunar materials into oxygen for propellant for a future moon colony. Iram Hernandez, a 22-year-old senior mechanical engineering major at UTEP, was part of the DEDC program during the fall 2022 semester. The native of Juárez, who graduated from Chapin High School in 2019, said that the experience honed his digital engineering skills to include 3D modeling and visual simulations.

Summer Meal Plans: A recent study revealed that one in three El Pasoans is not sure where or when they will get their next meal. A few area school districts will alleviate some of that anxiety through their free summer meals programs for children ages 18 and younger. The meals will be provided regardless of the person’s residency and enrollment status within a district’s boundaries.  

The Canutillo Independent School District’s Summer Food Service Program will serve breakfast and lunch from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays through June 30 at Canutillo Elementary School, 651 Canutillo Ave.; Canutillo High School, 6675 S. Desert Blvd., and Deanna Davenport Elementary School, 8401 Remington Drive. Meals for Thursday and Friday will be provided on Thursdays and the meals for Saturday and Sunday will be offered on Fridays. Information: 915-877-7452.

The El Paso Independent School District’s Seamless Summer Option meal program will offer breakfast from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:45 to 1 p.m. weekdays at district campuses. Meals will be offered at middle schools through June 30 and at elementary, Pre-K-8 and high schools through July 7. The district stipulated that meal recipients must be at least 1 year old.

The Socorro Independent School District’s summer meal service will operate from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays from June 5 through June 30 at 20 campuses throughout the district. Check the link for the daily menu and the distribution sites. Information: 915-937-0450.

The Ysleta Independent School District will offer breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays starting June 5. The meal service will continue through June 9 at most district campuses, through June 16 at Dolphin Terrace, Presa and Scottsdale elementary schools, and through June 30 at Bel Air, Del Valle, Eastwood, Hanks, Riverside and Ysleta high schools, and Tejas School of Choice. The district stipulated that meal recipients must be at least 1 year old.

Daniel Perez covers higher education for El Paso Matters, in partnership with Open Campus. He has written on military and higher education issues in El Paso for more than 30 years.