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HENAAC conference celebrates twenty-five years

Roundtables, development programs, competitions, awards and a career/school fair are on the schedule. Thousands of students and professionals are expected to attend

This year’s HENAAC conference, presented by Great Minds in STEM (www.greatmindsinstem.org/conference/conference-home), celebrates the twenty-five-year anniversary of the organization. The conference will be held October 3 to 5 in New Orleans, LA. The theme is “Forged by tradition, fueled for tomorrow.”

The conference is expected to draw several thousand attendees: top executives, technical professionals, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students.

Great Minds in STEM was established as HENAAC (Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation). Its mission is to inspire and motivate underserved students to pursue careers in STEM, enlighten and engage families, educators, communities and employers to assist underserved students pursuing STEM careers, inspire the nation through recognition of the achievements of Hispanics and other role models in STEM, enable and leverage Hispanic STEM talent to play a leadership role, and collaborate and cooperate nationally within the STEM community.

This year’s host sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. The academic hosts are Tulane University and the University of New Orleans. Other corporate sponsors are Shell, the U.S. Army, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, IBM, Chevron, EMC2, Booz Allen Hamilton, Verizon, AT&T, Sandia National Laboratories, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Dow, Texas Instruments, BP and the Air Force Reserves.

Conference highlights
During the conference, attendees will pay tribute to the founders and founding sponsors, and congratulate a new class of HENAAC award winners as they join the cohort of more than 700 past professional honorees. They will also usher in the 2013 Hall of Fame inductees as they join thirty-two previous honorees, and acknowledge a new class of HENAAC scholars who will join the 874 students who have received over $1.7M in scholarships to date.

Other activities on the schedule include a STEM-Up roundtable, updating academic, corporate and government leaders on the status of the pilot STEM education program; and the College Bowl XIV, where student/industry teams compete for awards. Other events will include a dinner saluting STEM military and civilian heroes, a 25th Anniversary Parade of Champions reception, student and professional seminars, a technical papers and posters competition, and a career and graduate school fair.

The conference will provide a networking opportunity for more than 1,000 college students to showcase their technical aptitude, connect educators to STEM innovations through the K-12 Educators Institute, and host more than 500 middle and high school students through the Viva! Technology program, which has reached more than 70,000 students, parents and teachers in eighteen states.

Viva! Technology
Viva! Technology is a national STEM awareness education program that engages underserved K-12 students, teachers and parents through culturally relevant, hands-on activities intended to stimulate interest in STEM careers.

A highlight of the program is the Viva! Technology Showdown. The Showdown partners local high schools with local universities to compete in a day of hands-on STEM activities. During the event, university student mentors, known as college captains, guide their high school teammates through activities for the chance to win educational prizes at the end of the day.

The unique aspect of the Showdown is a contribution awarded to the championing partnership to develop or enhance a STEM club at the winning high school, providing students with access to STEM resources long after the event concludes. With a STEM club established, local college captains can continue to serve as ambassadors for their universities and mentor aspiring STEM professionals.

STEM-Up
To build national capacity in STEM, Great Minds in STEM developed and launched the STEM-Up initiative in 2008. The goal of STEM-Up is to transform the attitudes, values, perceptions and behaviors of students, parents and school staff to show them that the pursuit of math and science is a viable career pathway.

Piloted in the Boyle Heights community in East Los Angeles with the support of the Department of Defense, this initiative provides an innovative solution to the shortage of the nation’s STEM workforce. STEM-Up works as a catalyst for boosting students’ interest and achievement around STEM through community engagement.

The program engages students, parents, teachers, administrators, local entrepreneurs and community-based organizations through a variety of interrelated STEM hands-on activities, and provides role models and career options for participants.

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