Dr. Edwin LeMaster, interim dean of the College of Science and Engineering, said the week is focused on educating middle, high school and college students along with professional engineers in the Rio Grande Valley. LeMaster said UTPA engineering faculty and students want to show the public the many opportunities a career in engineering can offer.
“The goal is to share some fun activities between engineering college students, faculty, and the engineering magnet school students and middle school students. We want to show all the wonderful opportunities, many jobs, and exciting challenges in engineering that we can celebrate,” LeMaster said.
The UTPA engineering faculty and students will host numerous activities during the week including, a videoconference with young Boeing engineers. Some of the engineers paticipating in the live feed will be UTPA engineering alumni currently working at the company. The videoconference will be held Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. at the Engineering Building. Also, competitions and demonstrations involving robot wars and extemporaneous engineering design with middle school student teams and UTPA students will be hosted on that same day from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
An Engineering Banquet for engineering students, faculty and local professional engineers will also be held Feb. 23 from 6-8 p.m. During the banquet, a cash award of $5,000 from Lockheed Martin for outstanding teaching faculty will be awarded. In addition, top student awards from each of the three engineering majors at UTPA – electrical, manufacturing and mechanical engineering – will also be presented. The local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers will also conduct an induction ceremony into the Order of the Engineer at the banquet.
The week will kick off Saturday, Feb. 19 with the UTPA chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) hosting Viva Engineering Day for local seventh and eighth grade students at the Engineering and Science Buildings from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The event will feature competitions in fundamental engineering concepts, teamwork skills and design. Also, participants will have the opportunity to hear from College of Science and Engineering students and organizations, and tour the Engineering Building.
LeMaster said since 1995, UTPA has graduated more than 450 students from its engineering program. The engineering department currently has more than 775 undergraduate engineering students and about 75 graduate students. Female enrollment in the program is at 17 percent while Hispanics make up 87 percent of the UTPA engineering student population.
“We have an excellent student population that takes great pride in working to build a strong reputation for our programs through their participation in national competitions, their strong presence at national conferences, and their preparation and participation in career conferences through résumé development, summer internships and their interactions with the Engineering Advisory Council,” LeMaster said.
UTPA engineering students have excelled in numerous national competitions including placing first at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers manufacturing design competition in 2004, which was won by a team of three female engineering students.
UTPA’s presence at national engineering conferences has also been successful with 74 students attending the conference of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Technical Career Conference (NTCC). At NTCC, Ford Motor Company offered permanent jobs to four UTPA engineering students and 12 students were offered summer internships in Michigan by recruiters.
For more information on activities during UTPA Engineering Week, call 956/381-2404.