SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Recruiting engineers is important when preparing to defend the high ground for future generations.
Members of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command participated in the 2023 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, or SHPE, national convention, Nov. 1-5, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City to recruit potential engineering candidates for the USASMDC workforce.
At the convention, SMDC hosted a booth that provided an opportunity to connect with potential candidates and tell the command’s story to more than 9,000 Hispanic science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, majors.
“National affinity groups such as SHPE is a great opportunity to recruit, outreach and network with some of the nation's top Hispanic students and professionals,” said Priscilla W. Williams, SMDC Equal Employment Opportunity manager. “As the Army and SMDC continues to ensure the reflection of our great nation by analyzing our workforce, it continues to be a priority to address less than desired representation of Hispanic women and men. Attending conference such as SHPE, allows SMDC to cast a broader net in the recruitment of top talent; which is one of the Army ‘People First’ and SMDC People First strategy line of effort
“SMDC’s participation also assist with identifying and recruiting diverse civilian talent prepared and capable of supporting the goal and mission of the Army and SMDC,” she added. “SMDC involvement, in coordination with Army Civilian Career Management Activity has the goal of recruiting top talent for 11 vacancies between Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence and Technical Center with the possibility of offering tentative job offers and utilizing the opportunity to fast track the hiring process lessening the onboarding time frame considerably.”
The SHPE convention is made up of nine different tracks that include: advisors, inclusion, graduate, undergraduate, community college, entrepreneur, SHPEtinas, professionals and SHPETech. Beyond the educational workshops and keynote speeches, there are competitions, awards ceremonies, networking events, as well as a career fair and graduate school expo with more than 300 exhibitors.
Williams said the convention is important because it allows an opportunity for SMDC teammates to engage with attendees spanning from college representatives to thousands of professionals and students from across the country who represent significant accomplishments in STEM disciplines and careers.
She said that SMDC’s participation also promotes interest in the Army and the command while increasing awareness among high school and college students of the Army as a viable employer of choice, be that as a civilian employee or service member. Williams added the benefit of the face-to-face engagements at this event is that it not only provide real-time responses to their own questions, but the ability to overhear engagements with other people like them asking questions that they might not have thought of on their own.
“SHPE convention and career fair brings together the best and brightest Hispanic scientists, mathematicians and engineers nationally,” Williams said. “This conference draws top talent by bridging the gap between Hispanic students and professionals and some of the most influential organizations and leaders in STEM.”
Dr. Chad J. Marshall, SMDC Technical Center chief of personnel management, said SHPE is a great opportunity to engage with the next generation of technical leaders. He added that SHPE offers the Army and SMDC the opportunity to build a more diverse workforce.
“At the command level being here is important for our command branding to the public,” Marshall said. “It important to have these interactions with groups we may otherwise not reach. As we attend more of these events, we see that a lot of people are not familiar with Army civilian jobs or what we do within the command.”
Marshall said interaction with the students was positive and a lot of misconceptions about working for the Army as a civilian were cleared up.
“We were able to convey that a lot of our careers at SMDC are STEM focused,” Marshall said. “Being here, we are reaching a younger generation for our workforce with students who are earlier in their career process that we may otherwise not reach. This is a great opportunity to diversify and rejuvenate our workforce and to possibly get individuals with different perspectives into SMDC.”
Daniel Cuellar, an electrical engineering student at Sacramento State University, said he has always been a fan of the military and wanted to learn more about engineering opportunities in the Army.
“I am most definitely interested in what Army Space and Missile Defense has to offer,” Cuellar said. “Being a technical guy, I enjoyed learning about some of the technology the Army works with and it is right up my alley. I didn’t realize how much technology the Army works with on a daily basis, it is truly amazing.”
Olga Ortiz, a chemical engineer graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, said she has an affinity for the military and is looking for opportunities to work with the Army
“The hardest part for the students is applying online and not being able to get these face-to-face interviews,” Ortiz said. “It is very easy to read a resume but employers don’t always get to necessarily learn about the student’s other skills on online applications. This is an amazing opportunity for students to meet their peers a great venue to bring exposure to students on how to talk to engineering recruiters.”