They're some of the Valley's top engineers, tackling scientific challenges that help protect the region's financial, transportation, utility and telecommunications systems. But for the 200 members of the Valley's Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, perhaps the most complex equation remains: bolstering the ranks of Latinos in engineering and high-tech careers.
Industry leaders and corporate officials want to diversify their workforce by offering minorities a shot at the rewarding careers that come with highly competitive salaries. But few Latinos choose to go into engineering and science fields, fueling the acute shortage.
And as the Valley forges ahead with its bioscience expansion plans and high-tech firms, such as Intel, continue to grow, the demand for minority engineers becomes apparent.
"It's a problem, because having a diverse engineering workforce provides different perspectives from which to tackle very difficult technical problems," said Danny Cartagena, an Intel product development engineer and SHPE member. "That's what engineers do, work toward solutions. So everyone benefits from diversity in engineering."
Still, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Greater Phoenix Chapter, is helping the industry try to meet that demand. The group's governing board met Wednesday to discuss how to increase outreach to students and improve scholarship fund-raising efforts. The engineering group, which has 8,000 members in chapters across the country, already works with K-12 schools to host engineering-themed events and provide mentors and scholarships for students interested in engineering.
SHPE's Phoenix chapter also provides speakers and mentors for South Mountain Community College and Arizona State University at the Tempe campus, which runs a Minority Engineering Program and a Math-Science Honors Program to assist students.
The ASU programs host high school students on campus to expose kids to college life and help them see it as a viable goal, said Cynthia Barragán, program coordinator senior for the Math-Science Honors Program. The 20-year-old program brings low-income teens on campus where students earn college credit in pre-calculus and calculus coursework, and meet with counselors on admissions, financial aid, housing and on-campus resources.
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Tha Arizona Republic - http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0902hispengineer.html