Each year, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) gathers to honor the best and brightest among them with the SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition, or STAR awards. Among those honored this year is Arizona State University Associate Professor Jean Andino, who was named the recipient of the Educator of the Year Award in Higher Education for 2017.
Andino, a chemical engineer in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, said the award is “one of the highest honors” she could receive.
The STAR awards recognize the contributions of SHPE members to science, technology and engineering fields. The 21 recipients of the 2017 STAR awards were selected from a field of more than 130 nominees that include professionals, educators, students and corporations. In particular, the Educator for the Year award is granted “to a college or university faculty member or administrator who has demonstrated a concerted effort to increase the persistence rate of Latinx students in the STEM disciplines.”
“The 2017 STAR awards recipients are innovators, leaders, role models and achievers and we are so fortunate to have so many inspiring members a part of SHPE and the Hispanic community,” said Raquel Tamez, CEO of SHPE, in a press release.
Each recipient has the opportunity to accept their award at the SHPE National Conference slated to be held in Kansas City, Missouri on Nov. 1–5.
SHPE was founded in 1974 by a group of Los Angeles engineers with the intention of establishing a national organization of engineering professionals to serve as role models for the Hispanic community. Today, independent professional and student SHPE chapters span the nation, working to raise STEM awareness and promote access and development. Andino, a longtime member of SHPE, says she’s spent a good portion of her career guiding students.
“As a Puerto Rican, black woman who has always worked hard to overcome obstacles and achieve, I have been very blessed to have in my life people who encouraged me,” Andino said. “As a faculty member, I have seen the challenges that some students face to progress. The bottom line is that I believe that it is critically important to diversify the engineering profession. Diverse thoughts are critical to solving some of the most pressing grand challenges that exist in society today.”
Andino believes the best way to achieve diversity of thought and tackle society’s pressing challenges is to reach out to and engage people with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences.
“Latinx students are underrepresented in engineering, and that has a wide effect on representation in academia, industry, and government positions,” Andino noted. “The fact that I am one of only [approximately] 15 mainland US-born Latinas in engineering tenured or tenure-track faculty positions in the nation, even in 2017, is surprising — and saddening. I am committed to providing all students with opportunities, but I would like to see more Hispanic/Latinx students pursue and earn graduate engineering degrees and become professors.”
To this end, she’s become a constant presence with ASU’s student chapter of SHPE, encouraging students to become licensed professional engineers and to pursue graduate school.
“Engineering licensure is an important credential that I believe that more engineers should strive to obtain,” she said. “Thus, I take any opportunity that I have to promote engineering licensing.”
Andino also champions graduate education. She secured her first faculty position through a graduate school fair after meeting faculty from the University of Florida, where she says her career blossomed.
Though this is far from the first award Andino has received, she says the STAR award holds specific significance.
“Nationally and internationally competitive awards are extra special since they provide a measure of external recognition that I am making an impact,” she said. “Given that I have dedicated my life to working with students and making an impact, this is one of the highest honors that I could receive.”
In addition to the recognition from SHPE, Andino has received a variety of awards for her outreach and educational efforts, including the 2004 John J. McCreary Outstanding Faculty Award at the University of Florida, as well as the Faculty of the Year Award and Award for Outstanding Support from the UF chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers in 1999 and 2001, respectively. She also traveled to Venezuela in 2003 to present at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Latin American Lecture Series. In addition, she was honored by Caltech with the 1994 Multicultural Task Force Leadership & Service Award and the Caltech Graduate Dean’s Award for Service and Leadership in 1996.
Andino is known for her research work as well, earning in excess of $17 million in external grants and contracts, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1997, three NASA tech brief awards and a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award in Renewable Energy to the Republic of Panama in 2012.
Andino also dedicates time to serving on prominent national committees, including those of the National Academies and Fulbright U.S. Scholar program.
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