EDINBURG — This year’s Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology week, known as HESTEC, at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley began with the presentation of a White House recognition yesterday.
UTRGV along with Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, who helped found the weeklong conference in 2001, were presented with the 2015 Bright Spot award for HESTEC and the university’s role in advocating and preparing students for careers in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Today, I applaud the great investments you have made to create HESTEC, the Center for Excellence in STEM Education, STEM-focused Early College High Schools, and robotics programs right here in South Texas,” said White House Representative Alejandra Ceja during the presentation. “People come from all over the Rio Grande Valley to see the STEM opportunities that you all have made come true for students.”
Ceja, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, visited the university’s Edinburg campus representing President Barack Obama to award a certificate of recognition.
More than 600,000 high tech jobs went unfilled across the United States in 2015, Ceja said, and by 2022 there will be a need for about 1 million graduates in these fields. It is programs like HESTEC that could help fill these jobs, she added.
This is HESTEC’s 15th anniversary and according to university officials it has now reached over 58,000 middle and high school students and about 22,000 college students. Parents are also exposed to these fields during some of the sessions such as Latina Day, where about 400 mothers and daughters gather to hear from experts in these fields.
“By providing educators the latest in cutting-edge technology and best practices in STEM education, providing parents tools to inspire and help their children navigate the higher education maze, and providing students the opportunity to interact with and be motivated by professional role models in STEM fields, HESTEC has changed the very fabric of our community,” states the White House’s Bright Spots in Hispanic Education website.