Earlier this month, the 2022 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Taking place annually, it is the largest gathering of Hispanic STEM students and professionals. Founded in 1974, SHPE has worked for almost 50 years to support people of Hispanic backgrounds in joining the engineering force. One of the students in the BYU SHPE club described it as a “giant career fair.”
The members of BYU SHPE were some of many students to make the trip out to Charlotte this fall. This year alone, around 10,000 students and “any company you can think of that needs engineers” attended the convention. A few notable companies in attendance included Apple, Google, and Tesla. The BYU SHPE group also broke new grounds with a total of 35 members attending. They’re already looking forward to next year’s convention in Salt Lake City, where they expect about 300 BYU students from the SHPE club to attend.
At each convention, competitions are held for the 10,000 attendees and colleges. Despite making up just a small fraction of attendees, BYU impressively won five of these competitions. Adding on to BYU’s remarkable resume for the event, our SHPE representatives performed at a high level at the Extreme Engineering Challenge. Students at the convention had the opportunity to apply for the event, where a limited number of 100 students were chosen. Of those who were selected, six in the challenge proudly represented BYU! The challenge was a 24-hour event where groups of students designed, developed, and promoted applicable products or solutions.
In total, BYU SHPE received approximately 70 interviews, and 10+ job offers. Sarah Maia, a Junior in the Computer Engineering Program, attributed this success to the SHPE club’s preparation. For months beforehand, students built their resumes and practiced elevator pitches and negotiation skills. “It was daunting, but we made sure everyone was prepared… SHPE likes to emphasize ‘familia.’ We had a lot of teamwork that went into this… It really felt like we had each other’s back at the convention.”
After the BYU members of SHPE returned home from the convention, I had the opportunity to speak further with Sarah. She relayed to me the powerful impact that SHPE has on its members and how “being amongst a giant convention of other minority students who share our perspective and background was really refreshing.”
It is important to recognize the beginnings of SHPE members, as many come from “very humble backgrounds, or backgrounds where our students are first-generation college students.” Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Sarah herself is a first-generation college student on her mother’s side. She does not have any engineers in her family but recognized her love for math and science and decided to join the Computer Engineering Program. “SHPE is one of the ways I’ve felt like I’ve found my community. I went into Computer Engineering because… I think that I can do so much with my skills to strengthen my community.”