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Hispanic engineers network through club

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:01

    Everyone wants to feel they belong. People group together in accordance to things they have in common and form bonds of friendship and loyalty. Such is the case with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). 

    "In spring 2009 we were only four students," said Omar Castillo, the current president of the Utah State chapter of SHPE. "Now we are 43 members. This is how much support we have been obtaining."

    Castillo said SHPE-USU has ranked 21st for its membership growth among other chapters in the nation this semester.

    "I would like to highlight that this would never be possible without the teamwork of our members," he said. "They are the most responsible for our great success."

    According to SHPE's official website, The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers was founded in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1974 by a group of engineers employed by the city of Los Angeles. Their objective was to form a national organization of professional engineers to serve as role models in the Hispanic community.

    Castillo said the SHPE has helped its members grow in professionalism for their future careers and learn from other successful professionals in their desired fields. A lot of the chapters' current success can be traced back to their new leadership and the reorganization he said has been put into place for SHPE.

    Castillo's leadership has focused primarily on three objectives this year: The national conference, the NASA Space Science day and an improvement in structural organization.

    "The National Conference happened in Cinccinatti, Ohio, at the end of October and it was a terrific success," Castillo said. "This time we were able to bring 24 members compared to last year when we only had 11 members.

    At the SHPE conference, a lot of our members had the chance to take advantage of technical and leadership workshops and also had the chance to get interviews with the top companies in the nation like Turner Construction, Delta Airlines, Goldman Sachs, Fluor, Cargill Engineering and others."

    In addition, Castillo said SHPE-USU took first place in the Academic Olympiad in the region, beating BYU, The University of New Mexico, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado and others. He said SHPE-USU also took fourth place in the Academic Olympiad nationwide, beating out schools like Penn State, Texas A&M and UCLA.

    In addition to the victories the chapter has had at conferences, it is also currently in the process of expanding its efforts to high schools in the area.

    "We're calling it the NASA Space Science Day, or NSSD," Castillo said. "SHPE-USU has prepared a proposal and submitted it to NASA looking for sponsorship for the NSSD."

    Castillo said the audience of the event will include students from high school and middle school. The main purpose of the event is to inspire minorities to pursue careers related to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field through workshops, key notes speakers and educational entertainment. He said there is a high possibility that astronauts from NASA could be delivering speeches.

    Eliot Cuduco, SHPE-USU's public relations chairperson, said many exciting things are coming together through SHPE-USU. While the goal of the organization is to encourage and develop Hispanic professionals, the benefits are not limited to that particular minority or even to engineers.

    "I totally encourage non-engineering students, from any ethnic background, to attend any of the meetings," Cuduco said, "because SHPE is not only a place for engineering."

    It is also a place to develop professionals of any field by motivating students to discover and improve leadership and communication skills that are very valuable in the job market, and also, SHPE is a good way to create a network of professionals that might be very helpful in the future as professional."

    Castillo said SHPE can provide the benefits of powerful networking.

    "Personally, I have never met with so many important people," he said. "I keep in touch with professors, NASA representatives … . At the SHPE conference I had the opportunity to meet with the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic. This is the powerful networking that SHPE offers."

    More than the guidance SHPE has provided to so many students over the years and across the nation, Castillo said there is the  great bond of friendship that has formed between its members and the community. This organization has become so much more, it has become a family.

    "My favorite part of SHPE is that there I was provided with the tools that helped me to grow as a person and as professional," Castillo said. "There is not a better feeling when you know that you work in an organization to help others and get the skills that will help you to be outstanding and more competitive for the workforce."

    For further information on SHPE, e-mail shpeusu@gmail.com.

– jess.wallace@aggiemail.usu.edu

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