The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, SHPE, Empowers Students at Skyline College and Beyond

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Front kneeling down, starting from left to right (Christopher Amaro, Alex Bautista, Daniel Powers). Center line, starting from left to right (Carmen Orozco, Clarissa Chin, Josh Garcia). Back line, left to right, ( Brandon Rivas, Wesley Wang, Javier Moreno, Diego Sanchez, Luis Jimenez, Oscar Ceron, Alejandro Ildefonso, Raymond Loi II)

Skyline College’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, SHPE, has been working hard since 2007 to improve the lives of students at Skyline College and elsewhere. SHPE of Skyline College follows the Mission of Skyline College “To empower and transform a global community of learners” and the Mission of its founding national organization by helping the “Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.” SHPE’s Vision “is a world where Hispanics are highly valued and influential as the leading innovators, scientists, mathematicians and engineers,” as stated in the national organization’s website.

Luis andSkyline College’s SHPE follows their Mission through creating environments where students can come together to assist and support each other in building the skills necessary to be successful in STEM related courses, including, among many things, through study groups and inviting guest speakers to engage students in their academic futures. Moreover, Skyline College SHPE seeks to empower learners beyond Skyline College, such as through creating a local SHPE Jr. chapter program at a local school to support middle and high school students in overcoming persistent educational barriers and to encourage them to pursue STEM studies and related careers. In addition, SHPE is planning on organizing Noche de Ciencias for Spring 2014. Noche de Ciencias is an initiative to inform K-12 students and their families about STEM education and college options through interactive workshops and activities. At the moment SHPE members are seeking funding for this event by reaching out to local businesses

SHPE at Skyline College joins the national SHPE organizations 339 chapters, including 262 student chapters and 77 professional chapters with almost 10,000 members nationwide. The benefits of becoming a SHPE member are expansive: SHPE provides leadership opportunities and development via the national and regional structure and scholarships through industry leaders such as Northrop Grumman, Purdue University, Cisco Systems, and among others, Texas Instruments. SHPE also provides fellowships, internships, pre-college programs, grants, graduate programs, workshops, and the national initiative, Noche de Ciencias.

SHPE also hosts a national conference that “attracts over 5,000 engineering professionals, students and corporate representatives…. and is an opportunity for engineering companies and corporations to recruit top talent from SHPE membership. It also provides educational, technical and career opportunities for professional and student engineers.” SHPE also holds leadership conferences that prepare students with skills that will assist them to fundraise, recruit and retain members, manage time, plan strategically, and communicate and lead skillfully.

SHPE is a club that Skyline College students earnestly embrace:

Skyline College Civil Engineering Major and current Skyline College SHPE President, Luis Jimenez, pondered his goals and aspirations, “… earn a PhD in engineering and to persuade underrepresented minorities to consider a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields.”

When asked what inspired him to join SHPE and what SHPE means to him, Luis responded, “I was first introduced to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) through the Puente Program at Skyline College. At first, I was reluctant to join SHPE and that was partly because as a high school student, I was not a part of any clubs. As a result, I felt unwilling to join any club organization offered at Skyline College. As I got more in tune with my major, I decided to join SHPE to learn more about what civil engineering does. In other words what inspired me to join SHPE was the necessity to learn more about my major. Through that necessity, I got to learn more about what SHPE really is and the benefits of being a part of it.” Moreover, “I am a first-generation college student and what that means to most is that you are doing everything on your own: your parents never went to college, you’re figuring out financial aid, tuition, and all the details about your major and have no one there to help you or support you. For me SHPE means quite a bit, because it is the support system that I never had and it is one of the reasons why I continue to be a part of SHPE. Through SHPE, I am able to give back something that I never had growing up.”

Luis also pointed out what he liked about Skyline College. “Skyline College or any community college is a great path to take when you’re undecided about your major. Financially, you are not spending as much compared to a four-year university. Skyline College in particular, has great professors who are willing to give advice and help at anytime. Specifically, what I like about Skyline College are the support programs that are out there for students to be a part of. There are many programs and clubs out there that provide students with different experiences, and, as a result, it is very diverse.”

Oscar Ceron, a Civil Engineering major and Co-President of SHPE at Skyline College, spoke about interests with and inspirations. [He is] “…interested in creating cities, bridges, and more for the Bay Area community. My dream is to become a professional engineer and have my own company in the construction industry so I can create a better community for people. In five years I see myself with my degree and a job. I will be helping the community, especially since the community has been the reason I am interested in becoming an engineer…. I was inspired to be a SHPE member because of the support I get from the SHPE familia regional and nation-wide organizations. They also have a lot of things to offer students in college studying engineering.”20131018135725868

Skyline College’s SHPE chapter is also closely tied to the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Program at Skyline College, which Skyline College student Jenny Minh-Ai Vo-Phamhi pointed out, “I joined SHPE because of my friendship and respect for friends at the MESA center who are in SHPE and inspired me with their hard work and determination, and because of Professor Stephen Fredricks, who inspired me with his deep dedication to the students. He is the director of MESA and is the advisor behind the other Skyline STEM clubs: SHPE, SASE, SWE, and SACNAS.” Jenny continued to speak about what attracts her to Skyline College, “I love the profound sense of solidarity involving us students, who are persevering toward individual goals and inspiring and supporting each other in the process. There is a definite sense that many members of the faculty want to help us succeed. The MESA Center in particular is brilliantly conceived and run by MESA director Stephen Fredricks to provide this sense of community. He works tirelessly for students to get the help and support they need to meet the challenges of the difficult STEM courses. My MESA friends have been important in my life. I have made it so far through challenging pre-engineering math and physics classes.

SHPE meets every Friday afternoon from 1pm-2pm in room 7307. You can contact SHPE through Professor Stephen Fredricks at fredrickss@smccd.edu.

All quotations are from the SHPE.org website except where otherwise noted.

Article and Photos by John Saenz.