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SHPE’s thirty-third national conference showcases Hispanic techies

The 2009 SHPE show bids to be even bigger and bolder than last year’s conference

NASA astronaut Jose Hernández, a highly popular star of the 2008 program, will be one of the featured speakers at SHPE 2009.The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) is looking to smash last year’s national conference attendance record. The 2009 SHPE conference will be held October 28 through November 1 in Washington, DC, at the Washington Convention Center and the Washington Marriott at Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, and Renaissance Washington, DC hotels, says conference chair Monique Jackson.

Approximately 5,000 Hispanic professionals, students, corporate representatives, educators and community leaders from throughout the U.S. are expected to attend the conference. The event, Jackson notes, is particularly popular with job-seekers. More than 300 corporations, institutes, government agencies and other organizations will be on hand at the related career expo. “They’re looking to hire, sometimes on the spot, for good jobs in the STEM fields.”

An employment mission
Hispanics currently make up nearly 6 percent of the U.S. engineering workforce. Increasing their numbers is part of SHPE’s mission, and so the nation’s largest technical conference for Hispanics is geared for a wide-ranging audience, featuring educational, technical, networking and career programs to support students and professionals.

Jobs for new grads and pros
Rafaela Ornelas-Schwan is exec director of SHPE’s student-focused AHETEMS foundation.The career expo is a particularly attractive draw of the SHPE conference, even more so in today’s tight economy. “Students are aggressively seeking employment and looking for internships,” says Rafaela Ornelas-Schwan, executive director of SHPE’s student-focused Advancing Hispanic Excellence in Technology, Engineering, Math and Science (AHETEMS) foundation. Plenty of seasoned pros will also be interested in the openings on offer.

Conference events
The SHPE conference includes a professional development strategy series and a variety of engineering programs as well as certification tracks.

There will be awards honoring professionals, educators, graduate and undergrad students and high schoolers, and a wide range of academic, professional, career and leadership workshops.

Especially exciting will be the many competitions, including the popular National Academic Olympiad Show, an extreme engineering design competition and more. There’s also a specialized grad student institute and a grad-school prep program.

The Salute to Corporate America luncheon honors SHPE’s corporate partners. The gala banquet honors SHPE’s company of the year, and the role models who won the 2009 STAR SHPE technical achievement recognition awards.

There will also be a STEM teacher training series for DC-area middle and high school teachers, and the AHETEMS pre-college symposiums, for hundreds of DC-area middle school students and high school students from across the nation.

Recognition and support
At last year’s crowd-pleasing extreme engineering competition, the U.S. Navy team waits for the building phase to begin.Last year Ornelas-Schwan was invited by president-elect Barack Obama to offer input on Latino education and STEM fields during a briefing in DC. “Washington realizes the urgent need for engineers in our country,” Schwan says. “When we come to DC this fall, we’ll be delighted to showcase the talent our organization has to offer to keep the U.S. competitive in the world market.”

Ornelas-Schwan notes that a special congressional reception “will be honoring four Hispanic representatives who have done huge things to support our organization. We’ve also invited high-profile political leaders to speak, and attend some of our functions.” NASA astronaut Jose Hernández will be another featured speaker.

For more details of the conference, registration deadlines and materials, check out www.shpe.org.


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