PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- At the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Conference this fall, attendees will have the chance to meet famous people, network with Fortune 500 companies and win a college scholarship after staying up all night building a secret project. Approximately 5,000 Hispanic students, professionals, corporate representatives and community leaders from Philadelphia and throughout the United States are expected to attend the SHPE Conference Oct. 31-Nov. 4, taking place primarily at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Now in its 31st year, the nation's largest technical conference for Hispanics offers a lineup of educational, technical, networking and career programs encouraging pre-college students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers and to support college students and professionals already on that course. The Hispanic population continues to increase at a rapid pace -- especially among young people -- but the growing population is not reflected in scientific and technical professions. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Hispanics represented 13.1 percent of the total labor force in 2005, but only 5.8 percent of engineers. SHPE President Diana Gomez, a California-based electrical engineer, hopes the conference's pre-college programs will make a positive impact on the 600 Philadelphia middle and high school students attending. "With the critical need for engineering talent in the U.S., we really want to spark an interest in math and science among Hispanic students of Philadelphia," Gomez said. "We hope that, with encouragement from like-minded peers and experienced adults, the students who attend the conference will be inspired to become the next generation of the city's -- or the world's -- engineering workforce. The opportunities, scholarships, financial aid -- all of those things are available for Hispanic students with the drive and discipline to go after their dreams." Highlights of the SHPE Conference in Philadelphia include: -- A pre-college program expected to bring in 300 Philadelphia-area middle school students and 600 high school students from Philadelphia and nationwide, complete with hands-on science experiments and information on college scholarships and financial aid -- NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez is invited to attend -- Competitions including the National Academic Olympiad Show (played in the spirit of the famed TV game show Jeopardy!), Ultimate SHPE Challenge, Web Coding Competition, Design Competition, and Technical Paper Competition -- Specialized graduate student institute and a graduate school preparation program -- Salute to Corporate America Luncheon, honoring SHPE's corporate partners -- Gala Banquet emceed by Shayla Rivera, an engineer and comedienne who has starred on Univision, Galavision and Telemundo, and featuring a keynote address by Victor Gonzalez, who escaped the poverty, drugs, gangs and violence of one of Chicago's worst neighborhoods and eventually became CEO of a multi-million dollar high-tech equipment manufacturing company. The Gala Banquet also will honor SHPE's "Company of the Year" and 11 role models winning the 2007 STAR (or SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition) Awards. -- Career Fair attended by more than 200 of the nation's top companies and organizations offering full-time and internship opportunities -- Professional development strategy series Though targeted to Hispanics, the SHPE Conference addresses the United States' growing need for engineering talent as a whole. According to the National Science Foundation, a rapid decline in the science and engineering labor force's growth rate is expected over the next decade, resulting in a fundamental change for the U.S. economy. "One step at a time, we are trying to fill talented people with exceptional jobs, and our Career Expo has been a successful avenue for those connections," Gomez said. "It's incredibly exciting to hear back from college graduates who have landed jobs from making contacts during our Career Fair. Through our Career Fair, our innovative national conference, and all of our national outreach programs, we truly believe we can make a difference in helping Hispanics and our nation at large." SHPE is the source for quality Hispanic engineers and technical talent, committed to enhancing America's position in math, science, engineering and technology with a strong and talented Hispanic workforce. For registration and other information, visit http://www.shpe.org.
SOURCE Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers