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HESTEC 2010 encourages youth to earn STEM degrees
By Office of University Relations
(956) 665-2741
Posted: 09/22/2010
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Before President Barack Obama called for the nation to focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education crisis in 2009, UTPA was already tackling the issue with its annual HESTEC celebration.


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Jeff Corwin speaks about conservation issues during a visit to UTPA in 2008. Corwin is a keynote speaker during this year's HESTEC.

This year Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week heads into its ninth year of making math and science exciting for South Texas youth and providing educators with cutting-edge teaching concepts to motivate students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

The theme for this year’s weeklong program is “Plan It Green: Your Tomorrow. Today.” The program, created by UTPA, in conjunction with U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), is geared toward students, educators and the general public. The event addresses the critical shortage of scientists and engineers in the United States on Sept. 26-Oct.2 on the UTPA campus.

Educator Day – Sept. 27, 2010

Returning to UTPA will be Telemundo Network anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, who will moderate the Congressional Roundtable on Science Literacy during Educator Day Sept. 27. The roundtable led by Hinojosa will feature the first Hispanic female astronaut and deputy director for NASA Johnson Space Center Dr. Ellen Ochoa, politicians and executives from Marathon Oil Corporation, The Boeing Company, and Lockheed Martin Corporation. In addition, educators will be participating in breakout sessions sponsored by Raytheon, NASA, Verizon, Texas Instruments and others.

David E. Roberts Jr., executive vice president of worldwide upstream operations for Marathon Oil Corp., and Rosalinda Barrera, the assistant deputy secretary and director of the office of English language acquisition for the U.S. Department of Education, will be the keynote speakers on this day.

Roberts joined Marathon in 2006 as senior vice president of business development. He previously served as executive vice president/managing director for BG Group with responsibility for Asia and the Middle East. He also served as advisor to the vice chairman of ChevronTexaco Corporation (now Chevron Corporation) from 2001 to 2003, where he provided strategic and operational advice to executive management regarding the Company's upstream operations. Roberts is a 1983 graduate of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mineral engineering, according to Marathon Oil's website.

Barrera was named to the U.S. Department of Education post earlier this year and was previously the dean of the college of education at Texas State University-San Marcos. She previously was a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Barrera's professional interest has been on language and literacy instruction for English language learners from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, according to a press release from Texas State University-San Marcos.

Student Leadership Day – Sept. 28, 2010

Students from all over South Texas who are enrolled in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) will come to campus and hear from professionals from a variety of industries about what job opportunities await those who pursue STEM-related careers as well as participate in hands-on activities.


UTPA Image
Jeff Corwin calls up a student in the audience to help him handle animals during his Distinguished Speaker presentation in 2008. Corwin is a keynote speaker during this year's HESTEC.

TV host and conservationist Jeff Corwin and Maria Ruess, vice president for business development for integrated defense technology at Lockheed Martin, will be keynote speakers.

Corwin, host of "The Jeff Corwin Experience" on Animal Planet, has been working for the conservation of animals and ecosystems since he was a teenager. When he's not in the field, Corwin lectures on conservation, wildlife and ecology, according to his biography on Animal Planet's website.

Ruess is responsible for all aspects of business development for IDT in areas such as Littoral Ships and Systems, Coast Guard and Surveillance systems and defense systems.

Ruess received her bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and her master of business administration from George Washington University.

Latina Day – Sept. 29, 2010

Latina Day will celebrate and promote women in the STEM fields. Highlights for the day include breakout sessions with female leaders in the science and engineering fields as well as female college students sharing their plans for their futures in STEM careers. Invited to serve as keynote speakers are Texas State Rep. Veronica Gonzales, TX-41, and Edna Campos Gravenhorst, author and historical researcher.

Gonzales, who is serving her third term in the Texas House of Representatives, has earned many accomplishments and has passed legislation on a many issues that affect her constituents. As the first person in her family to attend college, Gonzales understands the importance of quality education. She graduated cum laude from Southwest Texas State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English and Spanish. She earned her doctorate of jurisprudence from The University of Texas School of Law. Gonzales is a name partner of Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzales, L.L.P.

Gravenhorst was born and raised in Duval County, Texas and has authored six books, three of which pertain to historical research. Her works include Ay Mija! Why Do You Want to be an Engineer?, Té de Canela/Cinnamon Tea, and Southwest Garden.

Robotics Day – Sept. 30, 2010

A HESTEC highlight for high school and UTPA students is the Robotics Sumo Competition where teams compete for prizes. The contest offers students the chance to build robots out of Lego Mindstorm NXT 2.0 Robot kits, with the help of UTPA engineering students, and get a first-hand learning experience on robotics engineering and programming.

Career Expo – Oct. 1, 2010

The annual Career Expo, which is open to the general public, will be held at the UTPA Fieldhouse from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thousands of South Texas college students are expected to attend and meet with Fortune 500 company representatives in the hopes of landing their dream jobs. The expo is open to all majors and all areas of study.

New to HESTEC

This year HESTEC will be part of the NASA Summer of Innovation program hosted by the Johnson Space Center in Houston throughout the week. UTPA is one of a few venues across the state selected by JSC to host the program, which is part of a national initiative by NASA, and will feature educational presentations and exhibits for middle school students.

Major sponsors for HESTEC 2010 include Marathon Oil Corporation for Educator Day, Lockheed Martin for Student Leadership Day, ExxonMobil for Latina Day, Raytheon for Robotics Day and HEB for Community Day.

Community Day – Oct. 2, 2010

HESTEC Community Day will kick off at 4 p.m. at the UTPA Quad with exhibits including Futurelab, SciGirls and Terri the Robot. NASA's Spidernaut will make its first appearance at UTPA. The eight-legged robot prototype forms the basis for a series of new arachnid class of extra vehicular robots.

In addition, NASA astronaut Lee Morin, M.D., Ph.D will make his first visit to the campus. Morin has been with NASA since 1996 and served on the STS-110 Atlantis in 2002. He has logged more than 259 hours in space. Morin is a qualified submarine medical officer and trained flight surgeon.

Community Day will also feature free musical entertainment from Tejano artists Jay Perez, Marco Orozco, Bobby Pulido, and norteño group Duelo, a HESTEC favorite.

For more information on HESTEC, visit www.hestec.org.