HESTEC begins eighth year of encouraging South Texas youth to pursue STEM careers
Posted: 09/24/2009
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The annual Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) Week at The University of Texas-Pan American blasts into its eighth year, Sept. 27-Oct. 3, of celebrating careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and emphasizing the importance of these areas of study to South Texas youth.

At last year's HESTEC, South Texas educators participate in breakout sessions during Educator Day.
Since its inception in 2001, HESTEC has evolved into a signature event nationally in promoting and celebrating careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The program was created by UTPA, in conjunction with Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), to help increase the number of Hispanics entering STEM fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

This year's HESTEC theme, "GreenNovation: Footprints to the Future," emphasizes the global topic of the environment according to organizers.

"As environmental issues become more pressing, people are now relying on the government, corporations and public school and higher education systems to take action," said James Langabeer, vice president for Business Affairs, whose division is overseeing HESTEC. "So what better way to face these critical challenges of the future than to motivate and encour¬age the younger Hispanic generation to pursue STEM fields and careers that will assist them in protecting the Earth."

HESTEC, which began as a way to address the national shortage of engineers and scientists, brings together corporate, government and education experts from across the country to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to Hispanic students. The weeklong program provides teacher training, workshops, presentations, exhibits and exciting student competitions.

HESTEC Congressional Dinner - Sept. 27

Officially kicking off HESTEC 2009 will be the annual Congressional Dinner, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch/L&F Distributors of McAllen and TXU Energy, at the McAllen Country Club. Congressional members expected to be in attendance include Hinojosa, Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-7). Also attending will be UTPA Interim President Charles A. Sorber, UTPA Vice President for Business Affairs James Langabeer, who is overseeing HESTEC, and other University administrators. HESTEC regular Jose Diaz-Balart, anchor and correspondent for the Telemundo Network, who will also moderate the Congressional Roundtable on Science Literacy on Monday, Sept. 28, will emcee the event.

Educator Day - Sept. 28

Educator Day, sponsored by Shell Oil Co., traditionally kicks off HESTEC Week with hundreds of educators, administrators and superintendents from South Texas converging onto the Edinburg campus for a day of mini-conferences, workshops, corporate keynote speakers and a variety of technical and scientific/research speakers.

The goal of Educator Day is to make math and science more exciting to students in the classroom. Educator Day is scheduled to start at 7:45 a.m. at the UTPA Fieldhouse with a welcome from The University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa.

An annual highlight of Educator Day is the Congressional Roundtable on Science Literacy hosted by Hinojosa and slated to begin at 8 a.m. at the UTPA Fieldhouse. The theme is "Green Jobs, STEM Careers and the Future of the Hispanic Community."

Pictured are Patty Peña, a student at Palmview High School, and her mother Patricia Peña (right) during an activity at last year's Latina Day breakout session.

The panel made up of congressional members, corporate leaders and our nation's top educators will engage in lively debates and share successful strategies in the promotion of STEM careers. All testimony will be submitted to the U.S. Congressional Committee on Higher Education in Washington D.C. for review and policymaking.

Making an appearance at Educator Day will be the 25th U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, who will address the audience at 9:30 a.m. Solis was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as secretary of labor on Jan. 20, 2009. She was one of seven siblings in her family and the first in her family to go to college.

In addition, the educators will have an opportunity to hear from oceanographer and discoverer of the wreck of the RMS Titanic Dr. Robert Ballard at 3 p.m.

UTPA science and engineering students will also get a chance to hear from Nobel Laureate Dr. F. Robert Curl during a College of Science and Engineering College Symposium, sponsored by Northrop Grumman. A Superintendent Summit will also be held that day starting at 10 a.m. at the International Trade and Technology Building.

Sponsoring other activities and breakout sessions for the day include NASA, Texas Instruments, U.S. Navy, Shell Oil, Verizon and Raytheon.

Student Leadership Day - Sept. 29

Student Leadership Day introduces hundreds of middle and high school students from the UTPA and Region One GEAR UP Projects to a wide range of career opportunities in the STEM fields.

Attendees get the opportunity to participate in hands-on interactive activities and sessions that motivate and encourage the development of leadership skills. In addition, they are provided the opportunity to interact with STEM experts and researchers who are changing the world.

Opening Student Leadership Day at 8:30 a.m. will be Ballard who will be sharing his story of ocean adventure and exploration with the students at the UTPA Fieldhouse.

Participants will also hear from U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Albert Garcia III and nationally known, professional youth speaker Gabe Salazar, who challenges teenagers and encourages them to make positive choices in their lives. Salazar will address the crowd at 12:45 p.m.

The student workshops are being conducted by State Farm Insurance, JP Morgan Chase, Northrop Grumman, Marathon Oil, Motorola, H-E-B, Raytheon and the U.S. Navy.

Latina Day - Sept. 30

Latina Day is an event dedicated to mothers and their daughters to inspire young Hispanic females to consider careers in the STEM areas. During Latina Day, participants will hear from prominent executives from State Farm Insurance, Verizon and H-E-B about the exciting career roles available to Latinas in today's workforce.

Workshops for participants are being conducted by IBM, ExxonMobil, Verizon, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Marathon Oil, Procter & Gamble and NASA.

Robotics Day - Oct. 1

Robotics Day, sponsored by Marathon Oil, will feature a challenging HESTEC 2009 Robotics Sumo Competition, which will allow high school students to test their engineering skills. Professional engineers and UTPA engineering students will guide and interact with the participants who aspire to one day be engineers themselves. At the end of the competition, students will be awarded with prizes.

HESTEC Career Expo - Oct. 2

Pictured is the crowd at HESTEC 2008 Community Day.
The UTPA Office of Career Services will host the annual HESTEC Career Expo on Friday, Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UTPA Fieldhouse and Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex. Nearly 60 companies and organizations from across the nation will attend this year's Career Expo, which has provided many national employment opportunities for students in South Texas.

In addition, a Student/Employer Networking Social, sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Inc., will be held Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at the UTPA Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex to provide UTPA students and alumni the opportunity to network with exhibitors.

HESTEC Community Day - Oct. 3

HESTEC 2009 wraps up with its popular Community Day, which in 2008 attracted more than 70,000 people to the Edinburg campus. The day, sponsored by H-E-B, City of Edinburg and the National Science Foundation, will offer educational presentations and interactive exhibits for South Texas families.

Community Day will also offer the public an opportunity to interact and hear from NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, who went from working in the fields as a child to orbiting in space this past August. Fresh from his mission on the Space Shuttle Discovery, Hernandez, one of a dozen Hispanic astronauts, will be on-hand to motivate youngsters with the story of his journey into space.

In addition, well-known Puerto Rican reggaeton duo, Angel and Khriz, who have performed during the Latin Billboard Awards ceremony, will headline this year's concert stage. The free event is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on the UTPA campus.

Other HESTEC Week sponsors include IBM, AT&T and Coca Cola.

To learn more about HESTEC 2009 or to check out the schedule of events, visit