Phoenix hosts annual convention for national Hispanic STEM community

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers hosted its 45th annual national convention from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, bringing thousands of people from across the nation together at the Phoenix Convention Center.

SHPE is an organization dedicated to empowering the national Hispanic community to realize its academic and professional potential in order to impact the world through STEM awareness and development.

The national organization has more than 11,000 members, 230 chapters and hundreds of sponsor organizations throughout the United States, including 3M, Google and Chevron.

“The SHPE 2019 Convention in Phoenix wasn’t just successful, it was a game-changing event,” said Raquel Tamez, CEO of SHPE, after the event. “We had a record-breaking 9,200 attendees, 620 interview booths and hundreds of SHPE members walking away with new jobs. I could not be prouder of everyone who made this incredible week possible.”

The convention featured five conferences: a pre-college convention for middle and high school students who can participate in STEM-related activities; the “SHPEtina” conference featuring female members and attendees; the academic conference, which hosted undergraduate and graduate students, professors, advisors and deans of various universities; the professional conference for professionals within STEM fields; and the technology in innovation conference which hosted competitions including a hackathon, the Nissan Design Challenge and “extreme engineering.”

The conference had almost 300 organizations represented on the career expedition floor recruiting for internships, jobs and graduate programs. The organizations had more than 600 interview booths and made job offers on sight.

Top sponsors this year included Honeywell and American Express, which offered SHPE members coveted positions. The convention also saw 40 Fortune 100 companies.

According to SHPE, it is too early to determine specific numbers, but it is safe to say hundreds of jobs were offered during the event.

The convention held its inaugural Star Awards Gala Saturday evening, in which it featured two outstanding STEM leaders.

Tamez said this is the first year featuring an award named after Ellen Ochoa, the first and only Latina astronaut; at future events, SHPE will give the award to exceptional leaders in aerospace.

This is the second year that SHPE awarded the Rubén Hinojosa STEM Champion Award, named after the former Democratic congressman from Texas. Silvia Acedo, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, received the award this year.

“As a Latina myself, I’m very excited that these two preeminent star awards are being awarded to two Latinas,” Tamez said.

Tamez emphasized the mutually beneficial relationship between the City of Phoenix and SHPE. By creating new jobs and drawing more attention to STEM fields, SHPE helps fuel the local economy, and Phoenix has been a supportive and accommodating host for the organization, she said.

“Phoenix has been so warm and welcoming and receptive and helpful and supportive,” Tamez said. “We really do want to have a positive impact on the cities we come into by engaging all year long and supporting local businesses, and I like to think we are doing that… This is monumental for us, and here in Phoenix, too, because we have a really strong relationship and really large active chapters here in Phoenix, especially at [Arizona State University].”

Tamez and her team are already planning for the 2020 conference, which will revolve around “transcendence of transformation” in the Hispanic community.

“Every year, we’re bringing in more members, more attendees, more exhibitors, more sponsorships, more interview booths, more sessions — it’s just getting bigger and more impactful,” Tamez said. “We’re able to have a greater impact, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Ben Norman

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