August/September 2008

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Society News

SHPE’s 32nd national conference emphasizes professionals

New CEO predicts biggest event ever

Enrique Gomez, a “loaned exec” from IBM, became SHPE’s first CEO in May.This fall the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) returns to Phoenix, AZ for its 2008 national conference. “Phoenix was the site of our 1992 conference, the first one held outside Los Angeles, CA, and we’re glad to be back,” says Diana Gomez. Gomez will finish her third term as national president in 2009. In her day job she’s an engineer with Caltrans, California’s transportation department.

The 2008 conference runs from November 12 to 16. Programs for professional members will be emphasized this year, Gomez notes.

Competition challenge
A business plan competition is an interesting new event for professionals. Teams of contestants will be challenged to solve a timely business problem utilizing their business and engineering savvy.

Sponsoring companies will pose specific challenges to competitively chosen teams. Although there will be an engineering aspect to the business problem, winning teams are expected to include folks with a broad range of experience: MBE professionals, entrepreneurs, engineers and more.

“This competition will provide a real-world challenge to our finest minority professionals,” says Barry Cordero, a biomedical manufacturing engineer at Alphatec Spine Inc and hosting committee co-chair for this year’s conference. SHPE “entrepreneur of the year” awards will go to the teams that come up with the best solutions.

Green engineering and more
A new “green engineering” track is designed to address some of today’s most pressing environmental challenges. Gomez explains that “We want to engage our members in the design, commercialization and use of sustainable processes and products that minimize pollution and risk to human health and the environment.”

Workshops in this track will include practical industrial applications of green engineering, hybrid and low-emission technology, alternative energy sources and green chemistry for sustainability. The track includes a presentation on structural I-beams made of Colombian rice waste and polyester resin.

“We’ll have more programs than ever that carry continuing education credits, or count toward certification in project management and other fields,” Gomez adds. A business development track will offer tools for entrepreneurship, and an international track will emphasize the work of engineers around the world.

Job opportunities for pros
Crowds throng the career fair at last year’s national conference.The career expo is an important part of every SHPE conference. This year there will be a special effort to let professional attendees know which exhibitors are looking for experienced candidates in addition to interns and entry-level engineers.

Inspiring tomorrow’s engineers
Another new conference component is aimed at pre-college educators in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Over the last few years twenty-five “SHPE Jr” chapters have formed at high schools nationwide, most recently in Tampa Bay, FL and Albuquerque, NM. “We want to get some of the educators together at the conference and talk to them about the things we and they need to do to help interest students in technical careers,” Gomez explains.

The STEM educator sessions will offer tools for instruction in STEM subjects to middle and high school teachers. Partners in the effort are the U.S. Department of Energy, the Smithsonian Institution, NASA, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Institutes of Health. Representatives from the partner organizations will lead the sessions.

IBM’s Enrique Gomez: a CEO for continuity
The conference will introduce attendees to Enrique Gomez (no relation to Diana), who became the organization’s first CEO on May 1. He’s a “loaned executive” from IBM, where he’s had a thirty-year career in technical and management positions.

When he graduated from the University of Texas-El Paso with a BS in physics and math in 1979, Gomez joined IBM to work on the early phases of NASA’s space shuttle program. He moved through many parts of the IBM organization, and most recently managed more than 800 professionals in eleven countries.

Loaned execs stay on the IBM payroll but serve essential functions at a number of nonprofits. “IBM has had a long-term commitment to diversity,” Gomez explains. “As part of that they make executives available to universities and organizations like SHPE, SWE and NSBE.

“When SHPE was in its formative stage IBM loaned it an executive director, and this time they’re loaning me.” The commitment is open-ended, reviewed by IBM and the organization once a year.

Gomez has long-standing ties to SHPE, beginning in 1987 when he became the leader of the Houston Bay area chapter. He’s been IBM’s corporate liaison to the society since 1999.

The SHPE CEO position, he says, is designed to provide continuity to the organization over the terms of successive national presidents.

Biggest ever
An honor guard opened the banquet at the 2007 NTCC in Denver, CO last year.Both CEO Enrique Gomez and president Diana Gomez predict the biggest convention ever, with more than 3,000 attendees and 300 corporate sponsors. “We have an impressive lineup of speakers, including many with PhDs,” Enrique Gomez says.

Speaker for the popular corporate luncheon
will be Shariq Yosufzai, Chevron’s president of global marketing. Yosufzai started his career
at Chevron as a ChE in 1975. He has served
the company in many capacities and locations, including a number of assignments outside
the U.S.

SHPE’s corporate partners form the growing Industrial PartnerSHPE Council. This year NASA, PSEG, the Timken Co and the U.S. Army Accessions Command joined the group, making a total of fifty-four members.

More details of the conference, deadlines for registration and registration materials can be found at the SHPE website:


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