SHPE is a Place for Latinx Engineers

Columbia’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers offers members professional development, networking, and a ‘familia’ on campus.

Sep 19 2022 | By Grant Currin
A group of SHPE members stands in front of a blackboard for a group photo.

When Eva Soler Cruz, Nathan Ocampo, and Jordhy Gonzalez joined Columbia’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), they were looking for a community to help navigate life as engineering students and advance their careers as young professionals.

SHPE provided that — and a lot more.

This year, these three Columbia Engineering students are members of the group’s executive board, and they’re excited for a year of events and opportunities for the group’s members.

Soler Cruz (BME ‘24), the chapter’s secretary, says she “highly recommends students to join SHPE because it is not only an amazing opportunity to network and grow as a young professional but to also become part of a community of like-minded individuals that you could eventually call your ‘familia.’”

What is SHPE?

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers is a national organization that aims to provide support and role models in the Hispanic community. Columbia’s chapter — one of more than 200 at colleges across the country — organizes social events, workshops, outreach to local high schools, and an annual trip to the SHPE national conference.

“SHPE really is a community. It’s the one I was searching for, and I'm really glad I found it,” says Jordhy Gonzalez (CS ‘23), the chapter’s vice president internal. “It also serves as a source of general personal development,” he says.

What does SHPE do throughout the academic year?

A highlight of the year is the group’s annual trip to the organization’s national conference. Chapter president Nathan Ocampo (BME '23) says it’s “the best opportunity to network with companies and obtain internships or full-time jobs.”

“The National Conference is the biggest conference for Hispanics in the United States. More than 200 companies attend the career fair looking for Hispanic talent. These companies also support different competitions like the Extreme Engineering Competition that consists of a non-stop 24 hours competition to design a specific machine,” he says.

Throughout the year, SHPE partners with companies and units at Columbia to offer professional development, career planning, and networking opportunities. The membership also gets together early in the semester and during finals to share their collective knowledge. 

“It helped me here at Columbia with my class choices and getting into certain clubs. Older members kind of serve as mentors to the younger members, telling them ‘oh, maybe you should start working on your resume, start applying to these research positions, or start take these courses,’” Gonzalez says.

SHPE really is a community. It’s the one I was searching for, and I'm really glad I found it.

Jordhy Gonzalez
Columbia SHPE Vice President Internal (CS '23)

How is SHPE involved in the New York City community?

Community outreach is another important part of SHPE’s annual calendar. Each year, the membership chooses a local high school to host the Noche De Ciencias (Night of Science) for what Ocampo describes as “an inspirational night of science to remember.”

“This year we will visit groups of students, parents, and educators to share with them some inspirational words, provocative thinking, and most importantly share our struggles and suggestions with the students. The parents will be given a separate workshop to learn more about where to get money for college, how to help their kids stay motivated at school, and let them know that there is a group of engineers in their community they can always reach out to,” he says.”

Columbia SHPE also sponsors junior SHPE chapters at several local high schools. “We had this program for the junior chapter where they were able to learn computer science languages as part of the program, for people to get an early start,” Gonzalez says. As a result, one of the junior chapters has started hosting an annual hackathon. 

What should students who want to join expect from SHPE? 

SHPE is actively seeking new Columbia Engineering students to join. “We are always excited to have new members join our organization,” Ocampo says. Anyone who’s interested can send an email to [email protected] or sign up for the mailing list.

“It's really easy to join,” Gonzalez says “We don't really reject anyone. Just tell us you're interested, and we are open to accepting anyone.”

Soler Cruz, a rising junior, says she’s glad to have joined the group her first year.

“Being a member of SHPE has empowered me to take risks with any professional opportunities presented and take action through them to further decrease the gap between the Hispanic community and the professional world.” 

Learn More

To stay up-to-date with Columbia University SHPE, follow the chapter’s Facebook page or join the mailing list.

Learn more about the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers on the national organization’s website, shpe.org/