Celebrating STEM and diversity at the SHPE Conference
Photo courtesy of SHPE
This event underscores Utah’s burgeoning business and technology landscape and acts as a gateway for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. STEM represents an integrated educational approach that combines these fields of study into a coordinated program.
The SHPE conference fosters professional growth, celebrates innovation and has significant implications for Utah’s Hispanic population and Latinx professionals.
The strategic selection of Salt Lake City
The conference chair, Oscar Marquina, explains the decision to come to Salt Lake City was strategic, considering Utah’s rapid growth in the business and tech sectors and the emergence of STEM talent from Utah’s universities. He explains that Salt Lake City’s thriving tech ecosystem and Fortune 500 companies provide great opportunities for SHPE to network and grow (only about 350 SHPE members live in Utah). “This is the place to be,” Marquina says.
Marquina’s journey from Venezuela to New Jersey and then to Utah State University for his engineering degree shaped his unique path. Although he never practiced engineering professionally, he ventured into business during college, launching a small business and eventually working for Goldman Sachs.
Today, he’s actively involved in angel investing to support diverse founders and is launching his own investment fund. Marquina’s experiences and entrepreneurial spirit played a role in his advocating for Salt Lake City as the conference host, a decision made collaboratively with careful consideration.
One challenge in selecting a host city was ensuring sufficient room capacity for the expected 10,000 attendees. But the recent construction of several new hotels in the Salt Lake area played a crucial role in meeting this requirement, making it a viable choice.
Convention time is “the best time of the year!”
“The SHPE conference represents opportunity, innovation and community,” Marquina says, emphasizing the magnitude of the event. “It’s not just about its significance to the members in Utah, but it echoes the importance for our members nationwide and for the STEM industry as a whole. This gathering is more than just a conference; it’s a nexus where both individuals and organizations can access the top talent in the nation. It’s a platform where practitioners can showcase the latest innovations in the engineering sphere. Most importantly, anyone can find a community ready to support, mentor and guide them as they seek growth within their respective fields.”
For Hispanic students considering a career in STEM, the SHPE conference offers a unique platform. It provides career opportunities, job interviews and connections with top tech companies. The job fair at the conference has been a highlight, with over 650 job interviews conducted in the previous year.
Additionally, there are notable local speakers like Limble CMMS Co-Founder and COO Miguel Ramos, a SHPE member. Ramos, a graduate from Utah State University and the University of Utah, will speak on an entrepreneurship panel with Marquina moderating the discussion.
Nicole Knoderer, sr. director of conferences and events at SHPE, shared her enthusiasm about the choice of Salt Lake City as the host city: “We are very excited to bring our convention to Salt Lake City because it provides a diverse and exciting environment along with a convention center that can host our growing numbers. Since the city also is host to Silicon Slopes, which is part of the STEM community, it was an easy choice to make Salt Lake City our national convention host city for 2023, 2027 and 2030, to show our members all that Salt Lake City and Utah can offer them.”
The SHPE 2023 National Conference solidifies Salt Lake City’s position as a nucleus for innovation and diversity in tech. It serves as a mechanism for Hispanic and Latinx professionals, fostering connections and growth in STEM.