A collaboration between the Boeing Company and The University of Texas-Pan American to interest and support South Texas students in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics and technology continued early this month when Boeing presented a $50,000 check to support the UTPA Boeing Scholars Program, HESTEC (Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week), and the Mini Baja, aeronautics and other student competition programs in the College of Science and Engineering.
In addition, Boeing also sponsored its third annual live videoconferencing event from its Houston facility to more than 150 area students in the Engineering Building.
The UTPA Boeing Scholars Program provides scholarships for engineering and computer science majors. According to Arturo Rosales, director of Special Programs at Boeing's Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif., the $50,000 is part of a commitment made in 2002 to donate more than $200,000 toward scholarships for students pursuing engineering and computer science careers.
"We need engineers for the future," Rosales said. "We want to develop the pipeline of students coming to Boeing and to attract the best students from a wide spectrum of the college population."
"I think the University is doing a great job in outreach to the Rio Grande Valley through programs like GEAR UP and HESTEC. The engineering students out of UTPA are very well prepared - we want to continue this relationship," he said.
Dr. Roland Arriola, vice president for the Division of External Affairs and national HESTEC chairman, said Boeing's support has been vital to the University and its students.
"Since HESTEC was created in 2001, Boeing has contributed more than $300,000 in direct sponsorships to UTPA. Of this total, approximately $200,000 has been committed to the College of Science and Engineering to assist with scholarships and special projects. The contributions of Boeing are critical to the continued development of our science and engineering programs," he said.
The live videoconferencing presentation, also provided simultaneously to students at the University of Houston, was developed by Boeing and NASA and featured some of Boeing's top engineers and project managers talking about their role in NASA's International Space Station with the goal of sparking interest in scientific discovery and subsequent development of future engineers and scientists. As prime contractor, Boeing NASA Systems plays a central role in every aspect of the design, testing, building and operation of the station - NASA's orbiting laboratory.
This year's presentation included a UTPA alumnus - Geronimo Quintanilla - who graduated in May 2003 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Quintanilla joined Boeing in December 2003 and performs thermal analyses in support of the International Space Station. He was joined in his presentation on the thermal structures of the ISS by engineer Jeffrey Robles, who currently works in the Mechanical Structure EVA (Extravehicular Activities) and Robotics Group.
Other presenters included engineer Betty Espinosa, the Communication and Tracking Operations Support lead for the ISS, who spoke on the ISS communication and tracking systems and its assembly sequence, and engineer Carlos Pagan, associate technical fellow supporting the Thermal Analysis Team, who oversees the technical quality of analyses and decisions affecting the ISS thermal performance. Pagan described Boeing's role over the years in the Manned Space Program and the ISS and its future goals.
"Our next new journey in space exploration will be going to the moons, Mars and beyond," he said.
Students from Valley View High School in Pharr, McAllen Memorial, Laredo's Magnet School for Engineering and Technology Applications (META), and from UTPA also had an opportunity to interact with the top-level professionals in a question and answer session following their presentations.
In a surprise for presenter Quintanilla, his sister Georgina, a student at McAllen Memorial, asked her brother what requirements were needed to join Boeing.
Rosales advised in addition to taking as many math and science classes as possible, young students should hone their public speaking and writing skills.
"Engineering is both math and communication - you have to be able to communicate your ideas. If you can take a complex idea and are able to explain it in simple terms, you will be very successful," he said.
Maggie Ramirez-Powell, who teaches technology systems to ninth graders at META, said the potential benefits for students of attending the videoconference was worth the trip from Laredo.
"I hope this will give them a foreshadowing of what they will be seeing when they get to college and give them some goals," she said.
For a couple of students, the event further confirmed their interest in an engineering career.
Juan Elias Garcia, a META sophomore, said the presentation was complex but he was able to understand the concept of how temperature changes materials during space exploration.
"I hope to be a great engineer one day," he said enthusiastically.
Noting he was already taking one of the high school classes the presenters recommended, Aldo Ramos, a META freshman, appreciated the opportunity to learn more about engineering.
"I am interested in becoming an aeronautical engineer and this really helped me understand it more," he said.
Headquartered in Chicago, Boeing is the world's leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft with capabilities in rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles and advanced information and communication systems. Boeing employs more than 153,000 people in more than 67 countries and has customers from 145 countries worldwide. More information on the Boeing Company can be found at www.boeing.com.