Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers promotes development

Club prepares STEM majors to enter workforce through teamwork


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Computer science major Marcella Navas makes several announcements during the SHPE meeting on Sept. 1 in PS-107.

By Marci Suela, Art Director

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers plans to build socializing skills and offer professional development this 2016 fall semester to prepare science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) students to enter the workforce.

“SHPE is a nationwide organization that aims to empower the underrepresented individuals through STEM awareness while helping them reach their full potential,” Contra Costa College SHPE President Anthony Garcia said.

“Although the club has an emphasis in the STEM field and includes the word ‘Hispanic’ in the name, all majors and all ethnic backgrounds are more than welcomed to join.”

Although other plans are still being formalized, Garcia said SHPE’s goals this semester are to attend two major conferences, introduce internship opportunities, to visit universities and host various resumé and personal statement workshops.

The club meets every other Thursday from 3-4 p.m. in PS-107. During its first meeting on Sept. 1, the members also discussed about becoming mentors for Richmond High School students participating in the E-Bike Challenge funded by Chevron Corporation.

CCC students who are interested will meet with their Richmond High counterparts once a week to assist them as they build motors for bicycles, Garcia said.

The competition will be held in December this year.

Physics and engineering professor Mark Wong, who advises the club, said the E-Bike Challenge is an opportunity for CCC STEM students to give back to the community and demonstrate knowledge from their courses.

“It is more of an opportunity of young people, such as high school students, to have a fun STEM experience,” Wong said. “The E-Bike Challenge has a lot of engineering (involved), such as building, dealing with circuits, batteries and all that stuff.”

CCC SHPE Vice President Abigail Serrano said the SHPE Bay Area outreach coordinator invited the CCC chapter to participate in presentations to families at the Latino Engineering Day event at the Exploratorium on Sept. 25.

Wong said the involvement of SHPE members in science workshops for elementary and secondary students expands their social skills and builds professional connections.

“(The members) are much better ambassadors for STEM. Unlike me, who is out of the age bracket that can make science cool,” he said, “they fit into those big brother or big sister roles. These younger students can identify with them, serving as mentors and role models.”

Garcia said another goal for SHPE is for its members “to have a family-like bond.” SHPE is planning to host a bowling night, paintball session and ice skating event later in the semester.

“Students majoring in STEM fields are often competitive and focused on taking their prerequisites. Socializing can boost your speaking and networking skills,” Serrano said. “Building a community can help you connect with others of the same major. You can talk about your frustrations together. They understand where you’re coming from and they can help you get through your classes.”

Wong said because no one lives on campus at CCC, students have a harder time building lasting relationships. Students need clubs like SHPE to use an outlet to discuss courses, make student groups or find “a friendly ear to talk about homework or when teachers are being mean.”