| 03.19.2018

Engineering support

SHPE offers support to engineerimg students 


Iris Alatorre


The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers — a student organization at the University of Idaho — has spent the past six years encouraging Hispanic students in engineering fields to stay in school.

SHPE is a national organization founded by a group of engineers in Los Angeles who wanted to offer a support group for engineers in the Hispanic community.

Over the years, the organization has grown and spread to different regions of the country and several college campuses, including UI.

Diego Juarez, SHPE president for the UI chapter, said when he came to UI as a freshman there were seven other Hispanic freshman in the engineering department and now, in his fourth year, there are only two.

“We have very few Hispanics in engineering and those that are in it tend to drop out,” Juarez said.

Juarez said he believes it is hard for Hispanic students to stay in engineering because many don’t have the support they need.

“It’s our culture and the resources,” Juarez said. “Our parents never went to college so they don’t have that background.”

That is where SHPE comes in. Aside from offering moral support, the organization has a weekly study table for members and also offers scholarships and a mentor program.

Because it is a national organization, SHPE offers networking opportunities for members. Every year, there is a national convention where chapters present research and projects and attend workshops.

Juarez said in the past funding has been hard to come by, but SHPE is currently applying for a grant from the national organization to use for events they have planned next year, including their annual event — Noche De Ciencas, Science Nights.

Juarez said the group goes to middle schools and high schools and encourage students to explore STEM.

“Not just engineering, but STEM in general and even just college,” Juarez said.

Juarez said even though this is a Hispanic focused group, it is not limited to that and any undergraduate and graduate in engineering is welcome to join.

Iris Alatorre 

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