In a world driven by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) at Virginia Tech is playing a crucial role in shaping the future of these fields. Nicole Paz-Jimenez, senior in civil and environmental engineering said that the organization has paved the way for her future in this industry.

Nicole's journey with SHPE began during her freshman year at Virginia Tech, amidst the challenging backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual meetings were the norm, but even through screens, she said found the sense of community and support she had been longing for since her arrival in Blacksburg. SHPE at Virginia Tech actively holds general body meetings, outreach events, social gatherings, mentorship programs, and more. These activities not only provided valuable knowledge and networking opportunities but also fostered a sense of belonging for her within the Hispanic community at Virginia Tech.

The Virginia Tech Chapter was established in 1996, with the chapter growing in strength with membership increasing from two members in 1996 to 90 members in 2023.

One of the standout features of SHPE is its annual National Convention, which stands as the largest gathering of Hispanics in STEM. The convention is full of opportunities, with a record-breaking 12,000 attendees in the most recent convention held November 1-5, 2023. This event featured competitions, hospitality suites, workshops, networking sessions, and a two-day career fair with over 300 participating companies. The Virginia Tech chapter of SHPE was able to send more than 50 Hokies, including five civil and environmental engineering students, to the convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Those civil and environmental engineering students were Sebastian Buenaño, James Perina, Bryan Lagunas, and Marvin Gomez. The convention allowed Nicole and her fellow members to connect with industry professionals, explore career options, and gain valuable insights into the world of STEM.

group of Virginia Tech students at National Convention
Virginia Tech's chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers sent a large group of students to the national convention in November. Photo provided by Nicole Paz-Jimenez.

Nicole's involvement in SHPE has not only enriched her university experience but has also prepared her for a promising career in civil and environmental engineering. “One of the most significant ways in which SHPE has prepared me for my future career is through networking opportunities,” Nicole said. “SHPE has connected me with a diverse group of professionals and peers who share similar interests and goals. I’m so thankful for my familia and can’t imagine what my experience at Virginia Tech would be without them.”

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at Virginia Tech stands as a testament to the power of community, mentorship, and networking in the STEM fields. Nicole's journey is just one example of how this organization is changing lives and shaping futures.

You can learn more about SHPE at Virginia Tech here