This month, SHPE de ASU, Arizona State University’s student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, is celebrating 40 years of supporting its members, alumni and the Hispanic engineering community across the Valley.
“Our mission is to bridge the gap between Hispanic students and STEM subjects,” says SHPE de ASU President Sergio Lopez, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU. “To do that, we are providing not only academic resources but professional and research-oriented resources to our students to help them succeed.”
To support its membership of more than 100 students, SHPE de ASU hosts a mix of professional, academic and social events that keep members engaged and promote their success at ASU and beyond.
Lopez says that he and his 16-member executive board have planned an event for every day in October.
A few weeks ago, members gathered for Semana de Estudio — a homework event that encourages students of all engineering disciplines to form homework groups and support one another academically. Music and snacks were provided to keep the mood light. Another recent event called Scholarship Night offered information about scholarships for which SHPE de ASU students are eligible.
Familia Fridays encourage members to bond and learn more about each another in a social setting. There are also mentorship opportunities for third- and fourth-year students to provide insights to first-year students about classes, resources and other helpful tips. And to close out Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the club will host Salsa Night.
Events like these are what encouraged SHPE de ASU executive board member and fourth-year electrical engineering undergraduate student Jorge Peralta to join the organization.
“At first, I went to the meetings for the free pizza, then I realized all of the resources that SHPE provides for students,” Peralta says. “It feels amazing to be in a room full of people who want to see each other succeed. It’s my SHPE familia.”
The largest event of the year for SHPE de ASU students is the SHPE National Convention, hosted by the SHPE national chapter. This year’s convention will be in November in Charlotte, North Carolina. SHPE de ASU raises money through sponsorships and fundraising events so members can attend the national convention, which offers workshops hosted by industry professionals, career fairs and networking and social opportunities.
Peralta’s participation in a recent SHPE National Convention led to him being hired as an intern by Honeywell at the company’s operations in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“It was a phenomenal experience that I never would have imagined,” he says. “I was able to meet interns from SHPE chapters at other universities and we were all so happy knowing that industries look for ways to support minorities.”
Jennifer Velez, SHPE de ASU advisor and director of outreach experiences for Access ASU, has been advising the group for the past year. She says that the national convention is providing students many career opportunities.
“It’s awesome to see their anxiety turn into exuberance after landing that first internship,” Velez says. “I love seeing the growth of our members from students to professionals.”
More professional resources are provided by SHPE de ASU alumni who continue to support the student organization through event sponsorships and workshops that instruct students on developing elevator pitches and prepare them for job interviews, salary negotiations and more with the goal of getting alumni to hire ASU students after they graduate.
“Students don’t learn these types of skills in the classroom but it’s still important to have the soft skills needed to get jobs after graduating,” Lopez says.
Alumni and students are also looking forward to attending the upcoming 40th anniversary celebration, known as 40añera, later in October.
“One of our alumni who plans to attend 40añera, met his now wife when they were in SHPE de ASU 20 years ago,” Lopez says. “It’s amazing to be a part of the SHPE familia.”
Throughout the semester, members also participate in community service projects to share SHPE de ASU’s message.
One of the community initiatives members promote is Noche de Ciencias, a science fair held at local high schools with large Hispanic student populations. High schoolers have the opportunity to learn about engineering through hands-on activities organized by SHPE de ASU members.
“We’ve given presentations about 3D modeling and 3D printing and give SHPE de ASU 3D printed keychains to students,” Lopez says. “We have also done a demonstration for developing code that orders a pizza. It’s 20 lines of beginner code to show what they could potentially do with coding skills.”
He says that even if it’s a small activity, finding something that high school students can engage in and relate to will encourage them to want to learn more about it.
“Giving back to the community, inspiring young people to pursue careers in STEM and being a role model for minorities, is the most rewarding part of being in SHPE de ASU,” Peralta says.
All ASU students are welcome to join SHPE de ASU. Lopez suggests following @shpedeasu on Instagram or looking for announcements on Sun Devil Sync to learn about the student organization’s upcoming activities.
“We are always recruiting new members,” Lopez says. “The SHPE familia is never big enough!”
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