The College of Engineering at Valpo has a new inclusive and professional development opportunity for students, thanks to a student-led push to create a space for Latinx/Hispanic students in engineering.

Valpo’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) will work to fulfill the goals of the national organization: change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development. The organization is recognized by the Student Senate.

“SHPE is a place that members can call home within the College of Engineering,” says Krystal Peña ’21, current president of the organization. “With SHPE, I am now able to relate to others who understand the academic environment that we are in and still be able to relate to other topics that pertain to our Latinx/Hispanic communities and be able to freely speak in Spanish.”

SHPE at Valpo focuses on the word “familia,” which is Spanish for family. Nationally, the organization creates a network of support throughout all engineering disciplines as well as other STEM majors, and Valpo’s chapter is pushing for that inclusivity as well. They hope to expand membership into the sciences including biology, chemistry, meteorology, and more.

As Latinx students in STEM, chapter members support each other academically with bi-weekly study sessions and benefit from professional and career opportunities including company tours, career fair preparatory sessions, and the SHPE National Convention, the largest Latinx/Hispanic gathering for STEM studies in the nation. In addition, the chapter provides events that pertain to the culture and tradition in the Latinx/Hispanic community.

Valpo’s College of Engineering is home to a variety of student organizations, including discipline-specific professional groups as well as the Society of Women Engineers, Valpo Robotics, and WAVES (Working Across Vocations Everywhere through Service). These co-curricular organizations assist students in developing the leadership skills valued by their future employers in addition to social and service opportunities. Several Valpo chapters of nationally affiliated organizations have received recognition for their excellence, creativity, and leadership.