The executive board of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at the University of Georgia poses in front of the Arch. (Courtesy/Alberto Bustamante) 

The executive board of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at the University of Georgia poses in front of the Arch. (Courtesy/Alberto Bustamante) 
A relatively-new student organization is on the up-and-up — the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers strives to support and uplift the Hispanic engineering community at the University of Georgia. The SHPE also provides networking opportunities for members to reach their engineering career goals and creates a community for students to grow connections with other Hispanic UGA students.
The SHPE first became an official UGA student organization in 2015 and became a nationally recognized chapter in 2019. The national mission of the association is to “empower the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.”
The SHPE’s UGA chapter fulfills this mission by taking their members to national conventions, hosting socials and holding general body meetings. This year, the group collaborated with the National Society of Black Engineers at UGA on a roller skating night and went rock climbing with the Kennesaw State University SHPE chapter.
SHPE hosted their first-ever Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off dinner celebration on Sept. 15, catered by Athens restaurants. Faculty, other SHPE chapters around Georgia and members from UGA student organizations such as the Arch Society were invited to attend.
“It’s a means to see that we’re progressing, not even just word of mouth, just seeing people become more engaged and involved,” said club president Alberto Bustamante, a senior biological engineering major. “It means a lot.”
The next national SHPE convention is coming up in the beginning of November. Bustamante recommends all members go, stating that attending the national conventions “changes your outlook on SHPE.”
Bustamante recalled that the first time he went to a national convention was when he first decided he wanted to commit to SHPE. This year, the organization is taking more members to the national convention than ever before. The convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina from Nov. 2-6.
The organization uses donations from sponsors to help fund these socials and trips to national conventions. Micron Technology, a computer memory and data storage manufacturing company, recently donated $2,000 to SHPE at UGA.
“At the end of the day these are gifts from people’s hearts,” Bustamante said. “They want to help us succeed.”
Members of SHPE are also introduced to representatives from big companies like Verizon. Will Davis, the diversity, equity and inclusion program manager and an equal employment opportunity specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, came and spoke to the students in the club.
“It just helps you grow connections and network,” said the SHPE’s academic excellence chair and sophomore civil engineering major Veronica Perez. “I think that’s my favorite part, just getting to know more people within the college.”
Since being hired in January 2022, UGA’s College of Engineering’s inaugural assistant dean for undergraduate diversity, equity and inclusion Sonia Garcia has been particularly involved in SHPE.
“It is a tremendous honor to work in conjunction with SHPE, as well as with the various DEI-related organizations at the College of Engineering,” Garcia said. “We want SHPE and all of the College of Engineering students to feel supported, but most importantly, to feel that they belong in this community.”
With SHPE reaching its largest body of members yet and having their biggest year of recognition, the club continues growing and making an impact on the lives of people within the Hispanic community in the College of Engineering.
“My favorite part is knowing that not just myself, but this chapter in general can help you progress yourself as not only a person but as a professional,” Bustamante said.

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