Students from the Edinburg School District were given a first-hand look at a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and rescue boat during Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology Week at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Presentations by the coast guard, Boeing, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Lockheed Martin also informed students about the need for young Hispanics in careers such as math, science, engineering and technology.
"You have a choice to make that can affect the rest of your life," said Carlos Segarra, director of the Network Telecommunication and Engineering Division for DOE. "As a young Hispanic man, I was not expected to succeed. But you are the only one that can make it happen. Choose to be successful."
Michael Barbieri of Lockheed Martin challenged the 300 students to "think big."
"Are you going to be solving the world's problems or are you going to work at Wal-Mart," he said.
Members of the coast guard also called on the same students to rise to the challenge.
"The U.S. will have a critical shortage of engineers by the year 2010. We need to prepare our students, they need to take as much math and science as they can," said Lt. Larry Norris, coast guard admissions officer.
After a morning of presentations, students had an opportunity to view the coast guard helicopter and a Homeland Security Coast Guard boat up close.
"I came here from Monterrey, it's wonderful to learn of all these opportunities," said Erin Sepulveda, an aspiring future pilot.
All the companies say they are actively working to diversify and reflect a changing America. In a show of commitment to that diversity, Lockheed Martin officials announced seven scholarships will be awarded to UTPA engineering students next year. In making the announcement, Barbieri encouraged local students to take chances and embrace change.
"The Valley's a nice place, but there's a whole big world out there," he said.