Attending national SHPE convention an eye-opening experience for Elizabeth Aguirre

December 13, 2019

Elizabeth Aguirre attending the 2019 SHPE national convention

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) hosts an annual convention for undergraduates that is the country’s largest gathering of Hispanic STEM students and professionals. The goal of the convention is to offer a unique opportunity to engage, support, educate and advance the careers of Hispanic students and professionals.

The convention, which was held in Phoenix, AZ this year, is mostly intended for juniors and seniors, but current ECE sophomore Elizabeth Aguirre was among the attendees. Aguirre was able to go to the convention through a sponsorship from the ECE department, and her reasoning was to get a lay of the land before next year.

“I knew that this would be an amazing opportunity to not only develop myself professionally, but also to network,” Aguirre said. “I also knew that if I went this year I would be better prepared for my junior year, and coming back now, I’m very happy that I went.”

While at the convention, Aguirre joined a team of five students participating in a 48-hour hackathon. Her team, which placed fourth, focused on creating a web application that was designed to function as a database and voluntarily track the location of homeless individuals in Phoenix with the use of RFID tags. The app would help nonprofit organizations efficiently provide this population with the essential resources they lack.

In addition to the hackathon, Aguirre interacted with representatives from a variety of organizations, including Microsoft, Verizon and Twitter, at their hospitality suites, where droves of students would go in an attempt to land a job interview.

“It was a great opportunity to speak with recruiters, have real conversations with them and gain insight into what each industry looked like, but more than that, something I really appreciated was being able to see people like me go to a big conference and be successful,” Aguirre said. “It serves to motivate and inspire you.”

Since the convention, Aguirre has come back to the Homewood Campus to talk to the freshmen of Johns Hopkins’ SHPE chapter about attending next year’s event. SHPE has a regional conference scheduled for this upcoming March, and Aguirre is encouraging current freshmen to attend and see if they would be interested in going to the national convention in 2020.

Helping younger students is just part of Aguirre’s involvement in expanding SHPE’s footprint on campus. Along with her fellow Johns Hopkins SHPE leaders and other school organizations for minority students, Aguirre is working to create an engineering day to take place next spring for Baltimore high school students.

“The objective is to get the high school students on campus to show them what it’s like to be an engineer,” Aguirre said. “We want to have an engineering career fair panel, a guest speaker from the industry, and for these high school students who may not have anyone in their lives with an engineering background, can ask about being an engineer. I’m really excited about this project, and it’s something that is very important to me.”

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