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SHPE Student Chapter Working to Help Members Attend National Conference

Friday, May 3, 2019

UTA's chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, or SHPE, is working to help more of its members attend the 2019 SHPE National Convention in Phoenix this fall.

The national convention is the biggest professional gathering for Hispanic professional engineers, and students have many opportunities to find internships or jobs from major national companies. More than 200 companies attend the conference, including Facebook, Google, Apple, Texas Instruments, Visa, and American Express.

SHPE members sell tacos and tamales to raise money to go to their national convention.“The Convention is out-of-state and we have to pay for flights, hotels, and registration for our members to attend. We usually raise enough money to bring 14 members to the convention using the profits from our monthly taco and tamales food sales,” UTA student chapter President Alexia Acosta Ojeda.

“In 2017, none of our female members attended the convention. In 2018, I was the only one who attended. In engineering, Latinas are the least-represented minorities, at fewer than 2% of all engineers nationally, so we are hoping to bring at least six women to the convention this year."

SHPE empowers and helps Hispanic students and engineers to realize their fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.

UTA’s SHPE student chapter has 45 members, of which 80% are Mexican, 10% are from Central America, and 10% are from South America. UTA is a Hispanic-serving Institution. In the College of Engineering, Hispanic students represent 23% of the population, and 18% of those are women.

Ojeda hopes the Convention will encourage Latinas to become successful in engineering and expose them to the types of careers that are available after graduation. At previous conferences, students have received offers for internships and full-time jobs on the spot from companies who were in attendance.

The College of Engineering has 257 Hispanic female students and SHPE only has nine female members. The organization will host its first SHPEtina panel in the fall in an attempt to attract more female members. The panel will consist of Latina engineers who will share their stories of how they became engineers and give advice to a new generation of aspiring women engineers.

SHPE student chapter membersSHPE membership has benefits far beyond attending the convention and getting a job, Ojeda says, including development of “soft skills” that will be valuable in future careers and being positive role models for younger students who may be interested in pursuing an engineering career.

“SHPE has taught me how to be more understanding of others and has improved the way I communicate. We do a lot of community outreach to Hispanic high school students to inform them about the benefits of getting a higher education at UTA. We influence and help Hispanics be successful in engineering” she said.

Written by Selena Alvarenga