The student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at the University of Arizona have been honored with Raytheon's Mission Assurance Level II Eagle Award.
Raytheon is a global leader in defense, homeland security and other government markets. The company provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing, effects, and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services.
The award is given by Raytheon to pay tribute on behalf of the armed forces for a group's or individual's dedication to mission assurance core values: knowledge, discipline, courage, attention to detail and personal warranty.
"Very few Eagle Awards have ever been awarded, and it represents a heartfelt thank you from Raytheon and the troops for their commitment to education and community and anticipated contributions when the student members of the club become professionals in the field," said Raytheon quality systems manager and UA alumnus James Valenzuela, a corporate mentor for the students of the UA club and a former member.
The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, known as SHPE, and the UA chapter at the College of Engineering are committed to the development and implementation of programs aimed at recruiting and retaining Hispanic students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields or areas of study.
Valenzuela's ties to the club run deep: His late brother, John, was a founding member whom he continues to honor with mentorship and leadership by giving back to what he calls the family network that provided encouragement and support that led to his graduation from the UA as an engineer.
Valenzuela has so far mentored 400 UA students and asks that they go out and mentor 400 more each. "I teach them that it is expected for them to give back as a way to thank those who gave support to them," he said. "It's not just about taking."
"The UA is one of the finest engineering schools in the country, and the difference is that all the professors believe in the students and invest the time to help them succeed," Valenzuela said. "The students of the UA's SHPE earned this award and have taken the club to new levels of success."
The UA's SHPE program has grown from 10 to more than 100 students since its inception in 1982. The group has several community-based outreach events including the Advancement of Latinos in Engineering Day and the Young Latina Forum, which target high school students from low-income areas in Tucson to encourage interest and access to engineering fields.
The UA club also annually hosts a free basic computer workshop in English or Spanish that is open to everyone in the Tucson community interested in learning how to use a mouse, send an email, do a search or write a word document.
The students of SHPE learned of the award during their end-of-semester banquet, and its president, Mario Valdez, a mechanical engineering senior and honors student, said he was speechless when the award was presented.
Said Valdez: "Our club is not focused on receiving awards; we focus our time on working on our profession and on organizing our community events. It was a total surprise. We are thankful for Mr. Valenzuela's and other Raytheon employees commitment to the club and our professional development."