The 15th Annual Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Week took place on the campus of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Oct. 3 - 6.

HESTEC Week is an educational conference that features events geared toward promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to people of all ages and backgrounds.

HESTEC began with a congressional panel of nine distinguished speakers focused on increases in STEM-related degrees and employment during Educators Day.  Notable speakers consisted of the following members of Congress:  Congressmen Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15) and Filemon Vela (TX-34).

Cmdr. Karen Muntean, commanding officer, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, participated in the panel along with executives from UTRGV, Shell and others.

A native of Calhoun, Tenn., Muntean informed the audience of the two types of career paths a person can choose.

“The military is no longer a plan b for those who don’t know exactly what they wish to do,” said Muntean.  “Our ASVAB requirement for enlisted is a minimum score of 35, and for STEM-related jobs, that increases to a score of 50. For our officer programs, the GPA becomes very important.”

Muntean thanked the educators for their service and asked them to encourage their students to focus on their scholastics and their fitness.

Hinojosa, a co-founder of HESTEC, thanked Vela and the other distinguished guests for participating in the panel.

“It’s an honor for us to have these exceptional leaders here today to share their insights and ideas on STEM education.”

Hinojosa, who is retiring from Congress after 20 years of service, spoke about the importance of mentorship.

“I believe that one important practice that we can build upon in the region is mentoring and strengthening career pathways in the STEM fields,” said Hinojosa. “This includes faculty-student mentoring and providing internships in STEM and health-related fields.”

After the conclusion of the panel, Sailors along with other support personnel, hosted two breakout sessions, where they discussed the different types of STEM occupations available within the Navy and the opportunities for Latinos to achieve within or in direct support of the Navy.

One of the key programs briefed was the Career Exploration Program by Maggie Silva, a Career Exploration Program manager with Military Enlisted Processing Station-San Antonio.

Imelda Flores, a 15-year teacher with Zapata High School said that the brief was very informative.

“Listening to different perspectives of the military is pretty awesome,” said Flores, who is an Army spouse.  “When I was in high school, I was only exposed to the ASVAB test. This new tool could be very beneficial to students.”

After the breakout sessions, the educators attended a luncheon where they heard remarks from Muntean and musical selections from the brass quintet of Navy Band Southeast.

In the afternoon, educators attended an STEM excursion to McCreery Aviation, where Marine Lt. Col. Robert George, an instructor pilot with VT-22 Training Squadron, Naval Air Station Kingsville, briefed educators on the T-45 training aircraft.


Through the support of sponsors and partners, to include the U.S. Navy, HESTEC strives to empower teachers and administrators with the resources to inspire their students to pursue STEM careers.

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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)