Live! From Outer Space! It's Student Exploration Day at Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week (HESTEC) featuring astronauts Yuri Malenchenko and Edward T. Lu who will be attending from more than 230 miles in space and traveling more than 17,000 miles per hour!
During a press conference Oct. 8 attended by several HESTEC sponsors, University administrators, faculty and staff and GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) students and directors, UTPA Vice President for External Affairs Roland S. Arriola announced the agenda and speakers for the week.
"The reason all this is happening is for our young kids here, that's the whole essence of this program. We have a responsibility to reach out and help them in any way we can," Arriola said.
HESTEC's goal is to inspire Hispanic youth to appreciate the fields of science, engineering and technology and ultimately encourage them to pursue a higher education degree and career in these areas. UTPA has partnered with prominent organizations and corporations to present the four-day event filled with exciting presentations and interactive activities to stimulate young people's interest in science, engineering and technology.
Keynote speakers for Math and Science Educator Day on Monday, Oct. 13, will include Academy Award winning actress Rita Moreno and U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. Joan Sanders, aerospace education specialist with NASA's Aerospace Education Services Program, will lead some of the 48 breakout sessions for teachers and administrators. The sessions will focus on motivating teachers and improving instruction in science, math and technology. Also on Monday, Congressman Hinojosa will host a Hispanic Science Literacy Roundtable featuring Secretary Paige, other Congressional representatives, and top corporate executives.
On Math and Science Student Exploration Day, Tuesday, Oct. 14, thousands of students in person and via closed circuit television and web-casting will hear Derek Parra, the first Mexican-American speed skater to win an Olympic Gold Medal, speak on how technology improved his skating. Along with the live downlink with the astronauts, the day will be enlivened by other speakers and demonstrations as well as the popular Department of Energy solar car competition between the 42 GEAR UP school teams vying for prizes, which include lap top computers.
Arriola said there will be thousands attending Boeing Sci-Tech Community Night, Oct. 15, highlighted by the appearance of Jeff Corwin from The Jeff Corwin Experience on the Animal Planet Network. Students, parents, other family and community members are invited to view hands-on displays including a NASA flight simulator and enjoy South Texas food and entertainment. During the day, a career fair with 30 exhibitors from top corporations will be open to University students from throughout South Texas.
Dr. Michael Eastman, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, said he was looking forward to the Science Symposium scheduled on Monday, Oct. 13, for UTPA students. Several renowned professionals that integrate several disciplines in their research and work will make presentations including Dr. James Tour, professor of chemistry at the Center for Nanoscale, Science and Technology at Rice University; and Dr. Richard Glassberg, an expert on molecular biology and president of the North American Butterfly Association.
"HESTEC is about bringing the accomplishments of science and engineering to our students so they appreciate it, are inspired by it and come here to prepare for successful careers as scientists and engineers," Eastman said.
The final day of HESTEC, Oct. 16, focuses on Latinas in science, math, engineering and technology. Female students and their mothers will hear Ellen Ochoa, the first female Hispanic astronaut who has traveled into space; Latina Magazine founder Christy Haubegger; and other successful Latinas discuss the problems and opportunities in pursuing their careers.
Dr. Mary Alice Reyes, director of the UTPA GEAR UP program, said HESTEC is important in relation to her program's goal of trying to significantly increase the number of students, especially low-income students, prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.
"HESTEC not only recognizes the value of science, engineering and technology in our everyday life, but it celebrates the potential of our young people to be among those scientists, mathematicians and engineers," Reyes said.
Flanked by four other PJSA North High School GEAR UP participants, Reyes introduced Mike Guerra, a sophomore at PJSA North, who said HESTEC has had a great impact on motivating students toward engineering and science. He said until last year he had no idea what an engineer did but learned that they were problem solvers.
"Now it is something I'm actually considering doing," Guerra said.
Gilbert Maldonado, HESTEC sponsorship coordinator, acknowledged the support and participation of the GEAR UP students and administrators; local sponsor representatives present at the press conference including IBC, H-E-B, Coca Cola, Time Warner; and media supporters KGBT-TV Channel 4, KRGV-TV Channel 5, KNVO-TV (Univision) Channel 48 and The Monitor. Reviewing the list of events and recounting last year's enthusiastic participation, Maldonado said that "HESTEC shows that if you raise the bar, our students in South Texas can achieve it."
To obtain a complete schedule of HESTEC events or other information concerning HESTEC, log on to www.hestec.org