Engineering grad student advocates for STEM awareness for Hispanic students

Since 1974, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) has been promoting STEM awareness to the Hispanic community. In July, the non-profit organization elected CSU mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Trevor Aguirre to the National Board of Directors as the National Graduate Representative.

“My responsibility is to develop programs to benefit graduate students academically, professionally, and personally, and help them pave the path to success leading up to graduation and post-graduation,” said Aguirre.

Making room for mentorship

Aguirre has been involved with SHPE since he was an undergraduate student at CSU, and moved into the role of Regional Graduate Representative in 2016 while pursuing his master’s degree in mechanical engineering. During this time he instituted an undergraduate mentorship program called Academic Research Collaboration (ARC), which aims to improve the participation and retention of engineering and science students in SHPE by introducing them to research environments and activities early in their academic careers.

“I brought CSU SHPE members into the Advanced Materials Processing and Testing Laboratory to help them visualize the applicability of classroom studies and develop critical thinking and transferrable hands-on skills,” said Aguirre.

One of Aguirre’s goals as National Graduate Representative is to institutionalize the ARC program with SHPE National and roll it out to other universities. He plans to further develop program presentations, literature, and expectations, as well as create a downloadable toolkit so other SHPE chapters can easily adapt the program for their schools.

Because of SHPE, Aguirre felt welcomed into a community when he transferred to CSU, and has had many opportunities to further his own educational and professional careers. He hopes to return the favor to other students through his new role.

“I didn’t get here alone, and I won’t continue alone,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and once you’re successful, I feel it’s a misuse of where you’re at to not bring people along with you.”