GEAR UP students learn about science and technology during Exploration Day
Posted: 10/15/2002
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More than 2,000 students from GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program) gathered at The University of Texas-Pan American Fine Arts Auditorium to hear an array of professionals speak about the importance of science and technology during the second day of Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology Week (HESTEC), Oct 14-17.

GEAR UP students listen to various speakers during HESTEC's Exploration Day, Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Fine Arts Auditorium.
"Take full advantage of the GEAR UP program, and each of the opportunities available to expand your horizons," said President of Blockbuster, Inc. Nigel Travis, who was one of several high-level speakers addressing the students. "The world needs many more like you. Explore your interests, find your focus and dedicate yourself."

In addition to speakers, the students took part in a solar car race to show the power and potential of the sun. Math and Science Exploration Day is one of a weeks-worth of activities and programs to promote science, math and technology among today's youth.

Edward E. Whitacre Jr., CEO for SBC Communication, Inc. told students that they can aspire to greatness.

"The transistor, laser, cell phone, computer and modem all started in Bell labs," he said. "It changed the way you live. It changed the way I live. You can change the world, too. I can't promise you a job after college, but I can promise you an exciting career if you choose math or science."

Lt. Col Edward Cabrera of the U.S. Airforce was the Master of Ceremonies during HESTEC's Exploration Day.
University officials said the support from CEOs, government, and professionals in the industry have helped make HESTEC a national model of a program that promotes science and math education.

"Exploration Day is just one of the many events being held this week that will give students a brief view of what fields in science and technology can lead to," said Roland S. Arriola, vice president for External Affairs and HESTEC organizer. "What we're seeing with HESTEC is corporate leadership at its finest. The way these powerful corporate CEOs have embraced the kids by talking to them face-to-face and answering their questions has touched my heart."

From lessons about flying fighter jets to learning the latest technology employed at top corporations, students had a full day of inspiring presentations from pilots, astronauts, engineers as well as the corporate CEOs.

"The most important thing I learned today is that even though you don't make all A's, you can still have a chance in those careers," said Amanda Mason, ninth grader from Sharyland High School. "All you have to do is work hard."

Lt. Colonel Edward Cabrera - also known as "Fast Eddie" - was the master of ceremonies during the day's presentations. Currently the Commander of the 411th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in Calif., he has more than 2,900 hours of flight time in over 40 different aircrafts. He encouraged students to open doors that would lead them to a successful career.

"I was able to open many doors by getting an engineering degree. Today, my office is 50,000 feet in the air and twice the speed of sound. Now that's math and science in action," Cabrera said. "And I am glad that you are already opening some doors by being here."

Also speaking during Exploration Day was Dr. Cesar Gonzalez, IBM; NASA Astronaut John Olivas; and Gerald Mora, program manager for Air Force Research Lab.

HESTEC continues Wednesday, Oct. 15 with a Sci-Tech Expo Community Night at Edinburg Roadrunners Stadium from 5-9 p.m. For more information, call 956/381-3361.