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Encouraging the generations UTRGV hosts HESTEC to promote STEM fields

Soledad O'Brien

UTRGV’s first Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology week is underway on the Edinburg campus. The series of events promote science, technology, engineering and math fields to students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Texas and the nation will face scientific and economic challenges without an increase in the number of graduate students in STEM fields, according to the university’s website, utrgv.edu. In order to counteract that possibility, the University of Texas Pan American had been hosting HESTEC for 14 years with more than 5,300 college students participating. UTPA and UT Brownsville consolidated to form UTRGV this semester.

The week will begin with UTRGV’s first Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Soledad O’Brien, who is currently on her “Latino in America Tour.” O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who served as an anchor for CNN and NBC and is now CEO of the multimedia production and distribution company, Starfish Media Group.

Educator Day, where teachers and administrators will participate in development workshops led by the nation’s leading corporations, federal agencies and educational organizers, is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today on the Edinburg campus.

Student Leadership Day will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Fieldhouse, where students will actively participate in sessions meant to encourage the STEM areas and increase awareness about the opportunities available to them.

On Wednesday, female role models will inspire other female students and their mothers on Latina Day. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Edinburg campus.

During Robotics Day, scheduled Thursday, teams of numerous students across the Rio Grande Valley will gather to compete in presenting the best invention.

David Garza is one person looking forward to Robotics Day, set from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Fieldhouse in Edinburg.

“We get to see robots built by students and watch them duke it out to knock each other out of the arena,” the computer science major said.

On Friday, there will be a U.S. Navy Seaperch Challenge. The challenge is meant to encourage students in science and math; that way, they can aspire to be the next generation’s engineers and scientists.

The Seaperch Challenge will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Natatorium on the Edinburg campus.

On Wednesday and Friday, the university will host two Career Expos. Recruiters from federal agencies, corporations and local businesses will discuss possible internship and employment opportunities with students. Wednesday’s Expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union’s Gran Salón on the Brownsville campus. Friday’s Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Fieldhouse on the Edinburg campus.

While HESTEC will feature activities such as those mentioned above, campus organizations will do their part to promote the STEM fields as well. Clubs such as IEEE, ACM-W and ACM will be in the Engineering building throughout the week sharing the latest technologies. A member of IEEE, Larisa Botello, will volunteer to help out at the organization’s booth.

“We had a grant and we used the money to buy, maybe, two Oculus Rift lenses,” the La Joya native said. “We also have about five parallax robots where you can pretty much just tell it what to do through a program. We’ll have a booth set up throughout the week displaying some of these things along with an LED board.”

The finale for HESTEC week is Community Day, which will feature food, student organizations and performances by local artists and musicians as well as Costello, Dove Cameron and Chris Young.

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