UTPA's SHPE chapter will host this year's Regional Leadership Development Conference (RLDC) for the organization's Region 5, which comprises 52 chapters from seven states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Chris Garza, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering at UTPA, as well as the chair of the RLDC committee and vice regional student representative for SHPE's Region 5, said the chapter hopes this conference will encourage high school students to enroll at UT Pan American and showcase all the University and its students have to offer to fellow college students and professionals in SHPE.
"We want to put UTPA on the map," Garza said.
The two-day conference, to be held April 13-14, will include workshops for high school and college students, as well as for professionals, tours of companies in the area and networking opportunities for those who attend. Sponsors for the event include ExxonMobil, Chevron, the U.S. Navy, Procter & Gamble, United Launch Alliance, McAllen Convention and Visitor's Bureau and Raytheon. UTPA's SHPE chapter expects 250-300 students and professionals to attend.
"I think it's really important for the companies to know that we have talent here," said Samantha Mendez, the SHPE chapter's secretary. "We have great leaders and we have all these people who really want to do something extra with their time, something good for the community ... we work hard and we have what it takes."
Engineers working for the City of Los Angeles founded the SHPE in 1974 as a way to provide role models to Hispanic students. Today there are more than 300 professional and student chapters throughout the United States.
UTPA started its student chapter in 1996 and now has about 220 members. Over the years SHPE members have reached out to middle and elementary school students through competitions and activities to encourage the youngsters to consider pursuing fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Six junior SHPE chapters have been started at high schools throughout the Rio Grande Valley as well.
Last year, the SHPE-UTPA chapter was named "Chapter of the Year" and the most improved chapter by the national organization.
For more information on the conference, visit the Region V-RLDC 2012 website.