UTPA, HENAAC to host Hispanic engineering conference
Posted: 02/19/2002
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With Hispanics underrepresented in engineering, technology and science, The University of Texas-Pan American is doing its part to ensure today's Hispanic youth are given the resources and opportunity to advance in these fields.

UTPA, in partnership with the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC), announced plans for Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week (HESTEC), Oct. 12-19, 2002, during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the International Trade and Technology Building.

UTPA engineering students, University administrators and other participants in the upcoming Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference at UTPA and South Padre Island recently gathered to announce plans and sponsors for Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology Week. Front row, from left, are Michelle Castellanos, congressional aide for Congressman Ruben Hinojosa; Ray Mellado, HENAAC founder and board chair; Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa; UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez; Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs; Sylvia Hatton, Region One Education Service Center director; and Mary Alice Reyes, UTPA GEAR UP director.
"During Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week, what we are trying to do is bring in pre-college students and really expose them to careers in math, science and technology, and we all know how important math, science and engineering are," said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez.

Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week will be held during National Hispanic Heritage Month and a week prior to the HENAAC conference, which will be at South Padre Island with UTPA serving as academic host.

"If we are going to make a change in our community locally and nationally we have to do it ourselves; we have to do it through our teachers, principals and our community colleges, especially our universities," said Ray Mellado, HENAAC founder and board chair.

HESTEC will provide middle and high school students with the opportunity to explore careers in mathematics, science and engineering; participate in hands-on workshops; and listen to role models discuss their achievements in fields such as aerospace, computers and biotechnology. Corporate and government engineers and scientists also will visit Valley schools during this time.

Further, Nevárez and Michelle Castellanos of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa's office introduced plans to make HESTEC a national event by having President George W. Bush sign a proclamation declaring the week of Oct. 12-19 as "Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week," and pursuing support from the National Science Foundation.

Castellanos also presented Nevárez with a copy of a Congressional record dated Feb.13 in which Hinojosa took a brief moment to talk about UTPA and HENAAC's efforts to promote education in science, math and engineering.

HESTEC opens Oct. 12 with a Sci-Tech Expo, and more than 10,000 participants - students, parents, and teachers from the surrounding communities - are expected to attend.

An "Educator Day" is Oct. 15, with teachers from South Texas attending workshops on science, math and technology in the school curriculum. Two days later, Michael Dell, president and CEO of the Dell Computer Corp., is keynote speaker for Technology 2020. Dell will speak about the future of technology and the job market in the year 2020.

HENAAC is one of the nation's most prestigious engineering conferences. In the past, it has partnered with universities with strong and long-standing engineering programs, such as Rice University, University of Houston and The University of Texas at El Paso.

Partners for HESTEC include UTPA; HENAAC; the Office of Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, District 15; the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute; UTPA GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs); and the Region One Education Service Center.