HESTEC Week draws Speaker Pelosi and top corporate executives
Posted: 09/12/2007
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The University of Texas-Pan American recently held a press conference to announce its largest event of the year - the sixth annual Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) Week which will take place Sept. 24-29.

A check for more than $1.6 million was presented at the press conference to represent the amount of scholarship money raised by HESTEC since the start of the event in 2002. Pictured from left to right are Vice President for Community Engagement Dr. Roland Arriola, UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas, Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, State Farm Agent Ruben Solis, and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Sale.
The weeklong event, created by the University, in conjunction with the Office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), encourages students to pursue careers in math, engineering and science.

For the first time in the history of the University, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives will visit the campus, announced Hinojosa at the press conference. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be at the University the morning of Sept. 27 to speak to students, and business and community leaders during HESTEC Robotics Day. Pelosi, who ranks second in the line of presidential succession, will talk about her "Innovation Agenda" which seeks to add 100,000 new scientists, mathematicians and engineers to the American work force by the year 2010.

"I am very excited that the speaker of the house accepted my invitation to come to HESTEC," Hinojosa said. "Speaker Pelosi has been a tireless advocate of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and has made innovation a top legislative priority in Congress. I look forward to showing her how ready we are in South Texas to move the 'Innovation Agenda' forward."

During HESTEC, students, teachers, administrators and parents will have the opportunity throughout the week to learn about math and science by attending workshops, listening to motivational speakers and participating in interactive demonstrations, such as robotics competitions, at various campus locations.

"The number of students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees at UTPA has grown by more than 700 percent over the past five years," said Dr. Roland S. Arriola, vice president for Community Engagement at UTPA and national HESTEC steering committee chairman. "HESTEC has been a major contributor to this growth and is helping to build a strong pipeline of future engineers and scientists. As HESTEC expands its efforts, it will contribute to a major transformation of the Rio Grande Valley, creating an environment that will support advanced technology and new jobs in the region."

UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said HESTEC is taken very seriously because of the potential it has to change lives.

"We are making measurable improvements in the quality of education and in changing the imagination of our students about what they can do," she said.

Since its inception, HESTEC has raised more than $1.6 million to benefit student scholarships at UTPA.

Arnoldo Benavides, principal of Freddy Gonzalez Elementary School in the Edinburg CISD and a UTPA alumnus, brought 30 of his students in grades 3-5 to the press conference. Clad in matching black polo shirts, some of the school's students will participate in a catapult invention competition during HESTEC Benavides said. Credited publicly during the conference for creating a college-going culture at his school by making sure all 500 students had visited the UTPA campus, Benavides said he tells his students that school is not over when they graduate from high school.

"I tell them school is over when you graduate from a university. I want to expose them to this beautiful university. I want them to know that these are the buildings where they will learn to become an astronaut, an engineer, a teacher, a doctor...whatever they want to be in life," he said.

State Farm Agent Ruben Solis also attended the press conference to reaffirm State Farm's commitment to HESTEC, which has totaled more than $310,000 since the start of the event in 2002.

"Through this event, we've taken a student who might not have been encouraged and not given too much to hope for, the ability to shoot for the moon - to be an astronaut, a president, and to be a leader," Solis said.

HESTEC will begin Sept. 24 with Math and Science Educator Day, which will host more than 1,000 K-12 teachers and administrators who will attend interactive workshops and seminars that will focus on STEM enrichment activities. They will also sit in on the Congressional Roundtable on Science Literacy discussion comprised of members of Congress and CEO's and executives of major corporations who will share ideas on how to solve issues facing educators. President of Shell Oil Company, John D. Hofmeister, will give the keynote address that day.

HESTEC Leadership Day, Sept. 25, will inspire middle and high school students while they attend leadership building workshops and motivational seminars. Latinas in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology Day, Sept. 26, will cater to female high school students and their mothers. They are expected to attend a full-day conference where they will hear from prominent executives and motivational speakers.

On Sept. 27, middle and high school students will showcase their robotic designs and compete against other teams from throughout Texas during the HESTEC Robotics Day. Rex W. Tillerson, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the largest petroleum company in the world, - ExxonMobil - will serve as the luncheon keynote speaker.

The HESTEC Student Career Expo - the largest university-sponsored career fair south of San Antonio - is set for Sept. 28. All Texas college students are invited to participate and are given the opportunity to meet with high profile representatives from Fortune 500 companies, businesses and government entities.

Community Day, Sept. 29, at the UTPA Fieldhouse, is expected to bring thousands of Rio Grande Valley residents who will have the opportunity to learn how science, mathematics and technology impact their lives by talking to top technology exhibitors, touring state-of-the-art educational facilities and getting to see and hear from celebrity guests and musical groups.

Other HESTEC speakers and supporters include the heads of Marathon Petroleum Co., LLC; corporate business leaders from Monsanto Company, Verizon Communications, Texas Instruments, Chevron, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin and NASA.

For more information about HESTEC, call 956/381-3361 or log on to