HOUSTON - America's future Hispanic scientists and engineers were welcomed to HENAAC's 9th Annual College Bowl in Houston Oct. 10, as part of HENAAC's 20th Anniversary Conference. Students from across the country participated in the high-energy event to compete for scholarships and sharpen their professional skills before entering the technology industry.

HENAAC is a Hispanic engineer national achievement and awards organization dedicated to identifying, honoring and documenting the contributions of outstanding Hispanic-American science, engineering, technology and math professionals.

At this year's conference, RDECOM, the U.S. Army Accessions Command and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collaborated to inform students about the variety of opportunities within the Army. Together, they conducted a workshop entitled "The Soldier, the Civilian and the Army Engineer: Serve Your Country Your Way," where students conversed with Hispanic engineers about their experiences and benefits they've received through their service with the Army.

Christy Fernandez, college bowl student matriculated at Duke University's graduate school said that, for her, the conference confirmed, "...the Army has not only great people, but potentially great opportunities for me to explore."

Select engineers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command served as college bowl coaches and mentors to the young scientists. The teams were challenged to find engineering solutions for a number of scenarios and present their proposals, in the form of skits, to a panel of judges. College bowl competitions were team-focused and creativity-centered, both of which are skills students will need once they enter the workforce.

A returning college bowl student participant, Elizabeth LeBrun, said she enjoyed the direct contact with industry representatives who work in ever-changing environments. "Every time I attend [HENAAC] I learn something different," she said.

To mimic the competitive technical industry, the College Bowl held an accelerated career fair, where students were expected to sell themselves in one minute to participating corporate representatives. Companies were expected to vote and 'draft' students onto their team for the remainder of the weekend. Then, among many other activities, coaches worked with students one-on-one to provide guidance on resume writing and interviewing techniques.

Katryna Segovia, RDECOM engineer and college bowl coach, was deemed last year as HENAAC's Most Promising Engineer. Returning this year as a coach, Segovia said she wants to provide insight on what she has learned on her journey towards success.

"I want students to walk away with the skills necessary to set themselves apart in an interview, and present themselves in such as way that companies can't forget them, because that they can take with them for life," said Segovia.

Segovia assisted student Paul Christopher James Jr., during a resume workshop designed to show students what companies are looking for in a resume. He said students who attend HENAAC should come with an open mind.

"Before this conference, I thought you had to enlist to work for the Army, but now I know you can be Army Strong without being in uniform," said James, a student at Texas A&M University.

During the conference weekend, RDECOM and HENAAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding to signify a commitment to support the development of young Hispanic engineers through outreach events such as HENAAC.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16