Annual HENAAC conference spotlights STEM, excellence and innovation
Professionals and students will find networking opportunities, role models and maybe a job
By Dan Margherita
Senior Contributing Editor
Great Minds in STEM (Monterey Park, CA) will host the twenty-fourth annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC) from October 11 to 13 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Its theme will be "STEM, excellence, and the pursuit of innovation."
The conference is expected to draw more than 2,500 attendees, including professionals and college and high school students, a significant increase over last year's event.
A library of profiles
"I'm proud of two things about this year's conference," says Ray Mellado, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Great Minds in STEM. "First, we are creating a library of award nominee profiles that we can use in our education programs. Not only is the nomination recognition for the employee; it creates a value chain of stories of people who look like the communities we serve.
"We sort the profiles into separate tracks and use them to show the high school, college and professional communities that there is a successful pathway to a STEM career. We aren't just a conference that you go to once a year, get some recognition and that's it. The conference is a catalyst that carries on over the next twelve months."
Professional attendees mentor students
"Second, it's worth noting that we get as many professionals as we do students. There is a lot of mentoring at our conference through our protégé mentorship program. We try to link attendees up with people in their fields so that they have someone with whom they can network or to whom they can reach out."
Among this year's conference speakers are three professionals with impressive credentials. Robert J. Stevens is chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin. Stevens is a distinguished alumnus of Slippery Rock University (Slippery Rock, PA). He earned a masters degree in engineering and management from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (Brooklyn, NY) and, through a Fairchild Fellowship, earned a masters degree in business from Columbia University (New York, NY). He is a graduate of the Department of Defense Systems Management College Program Management course.
Wes Bush is chairman, chief executive officer and president of Northrop Grumman. Bush earned bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Cambridge, MA). He also completed the University of California, Los Angeles' Executive Management Program.
As of this past May, Lt General Thomas P. Bostick is the fifty-third U.S. Army chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Bostick serves as the senior military officer overseeing most of the nation's civil works infrastructure and military construction. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1978 with a bachelor of science degree. He holds a masters degree in both civil engineering and mechanical engineering from Stanford University (Stanford, CA), and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College (Carlisle, PA). Bostick is a registered professional engineer in Virginia.
Seminars, workshops and a career fair
The HENAAC conference will include seminars and workshops that attendees have enjoyed in past years. A free career and graduate school fair will be held on Saturday, October 13. The conference will also include the third annual technical posters and papers competition: graduate students, undergrads and high school seniors and juniors will be able to submit an abstract on their summer research, internship, senior design project, thesis or dissertation.
A core mission of GMiS is to highlight and showcase outstanding role models to inspire young people to pursue careers in technology and to motivate professionals to continue to connect with the Hispanic community. On Friday, October 12, the traditional awards recognition program will honor the nation's best and brightest Hispanic engineers, scientists and technology experts.
The College Bowl is a high-energy competition in which teams of students, coached and judged by industry and government representatives, showcase their talents, teamwork and leadership skills. It's also an opportunity for students to win scholarships for first, second and third-place teams. Returning this year will be the 2011 championship coaching team of Northrop Grumman employees.
Lots for professionals and students
There are countless good reasons to attend. "If you're a professional, you can connect with people in your profession and take advantage of networking opportunities. You can see what it takes to be recognized at a very high level." Mellado notes that many companies and government agencies hold organization-wide diversity meetings at the HENAAC conference because it is one of the few times that their people from all around the country are in the same place at the same time.
"If you're a college student, maybe there are several companies you think you want to work for," Mellado continues. "This is a great place to find out what jobs are open and who the hiring people are. If you do know that you want to work for one of these companies, there will be hiring managers here." Mellado notes that at the 2011 conference, Boeing hired many people on the spot.
The title host of this year's conference is Lockheed Martin. Host sponsors are the Walt Disney Company, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Academic hosts are Florida International University and Central Florida University. Additional sponsors include Raytheon, the U.S. Army, IBM, Rockwell Collins and many other tech-focused organizations in government and the private sector.
Mellado shares the story behind the "STEM, excellence, and the pursuit of innovation" theme. "Since the conference is happening only three weeks before our national election," he says, "we chose that theme to emphasize that the pursuit of STEM innovation is key to our country's future."
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