By Lark Lewis
The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, (SHPE) pronounced ship, is one of NIU’s 18 STEM-related student organizations. Focusing on promoting STEM fields in the Hispanic community, and outreach to future STEM students, SHPE hopes to accomplish many goals this year. SHPE members allowed me to sit in on one of their meetings and discuss their plans for the upcoming year.
What’s the mission of SHPE?
“We’re here to change the community, we do a lot of professional and academic development. We try to make sure you have all the tools necessary to graduate, and get a job after you graduate” said SHPE President and senior Mechanical Engineering major Eligio Guerrero. The Hispanic community has had the least growth in higher education and SHPE hopes to change that by encouraging the community to seek higher education Guerrero said.
How does SHPE reach out to future STEM students in the community?
SHPE has a group at DeKalb High School called SHPE Junior as well as a partnership with Gregory Middle School in Naperville where they help introduce students to STEM projects. With both of these groups, SHPE hosts Noches de Ciencias which are times for students and their families to be exposed to all that STEM fields have to offer.
“We try to seek out and help kids. Starting in high school and help them transition [into college], that way they always have that support” Guerrero said.
Two SHPE members who happen to be twins, Eduardo and Bernardo Gomez, were both involved with SHPE in high school which is what brought them to SHPE at NIU.
Why is it important for SHPE to be at NIU’s campus?
“I feel like the Hispanic community has a really big misconception on the STEM fields which I think is why a lot of them don’t go into them” said Ivan Ortiz, SHPE Secretary and senior Computer Science major. Ortiz joined SHPE primarily for the professional aspect, “most Latino groups on campus, aren’t professional organizations” Ortiz said.
Tania Jimenez, SHPE Social Chair and senior Biology major, thinks being surrounded by other people in your field, makes things easier. “I think STEM fields in general are just one of the hardest fields to go into, and when you find a support system on campus, you’re twice as likely to succeed in the field that you choose, because you have people who have the same headache as you” Jimenez said.
As the year progresses, SHPE hopes to draw in more members whose majors fall into the other parts of STEM that aren’t engineering; Science, Technology and Math majors. They also plan to keep current members more active with events like the annual National SHPE Conference in Chicago, and even hosting more Noches de Ciencias.
For more information on NIU’s SHPE chapter, check out their website at www.niushpe.com