Developing the Next Generation of Hispanic STEM Professionals

Congressional

Members and Expert Panel focus on the Dire Need to Promote Science, Technology,

Engineering, and Mathematics careers within the U.S. Hispanic Community.

Washington, DC (CapitalWirePR) – The Congressional Hispanic Leadership

Institute (CHLI) today hosted an insightful Congressional briefing on the

theme: “STEM: How the U.S. Hispanic Community will Define the Future of U.S.

Competitiveness.” This standing room only briefing centered on the growing

importance Americans of Hispanic descent will have in the future innovation

capacity, economic competitiveness, as well as the national security of the United States of America.

As part of its ongoing commitment of highlighting important public policy

initiatives, the CHLI Congressional Briefing Series today brought together

Members of Congress from both parties and a diverse group of expert panelists

who are committed to building a greater awareness and consensus to increase the

graduation rates of Americans of Hispanic descent in the science, technology,

engineering and mathematics fields in the coming years.

“As the Hispanic community in the U.S. becomes the fastest growing

minority in our nation, our role in these fields will be increasingly

important,” said Diaz-Balart.  “Hispanics should be prepared to be leaders

in STEM research, development and implementation.  We have come a long way

in education reform but more must be done to close the achievement gap for

Hispanic students,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Member, House Science and

Technology Committee.

Considering the demand in the coming years for a knowledge-based workforce and

the growing demographics of the Hispanic community, the United States

will potentially lose its competitive edge if the nation does not reduce the

disparity in the drop-out rates within the Hispanic community. Americans of Hispanic

descent account for approximately 16% of the US population and nearly 50% of the

population growth making this not only a Hispanic challenge but also a national

challenge of the highest priority.

In the next twenty years, studies show that between seventy to eighty million

Americans will retire. While only five percent of the American workforce is

currently employed in STEM-related jobs, Americans of Hispanic descent only

comprise two percent of all STEM professionals.

Additionally, less than 40% of students intending to major in STEM fields upon

college entrance actually complete a degree in these fields. For

underrepresented minorities the rate is below 25%. With these numbers and the

explosion of the Hispanic population throughout the country, this is alarming,

discouraging, and a very serious threat to the competitiveness and prosperity

of the United States. 

“Today’s CHLI Congressional Briefing is a call to action for all stakeholders

to inspire a new generation of Hispanic STEM professionals to lead our nation

in innovation, in creativity, and to ensure we have the needed skills to meet

the yet unknown challenges awaiting us in the 21st Century,” said Octavio A.

Hinojosa Mier, CHLI Executive Director. “If we, as a society, fail to awaken the

passion for STEM careers, especially within today’s K-12 students, our national

security is serious risk.’

“As a country we have traditionally been very innovative but innovation needs

to be continuously nurtured.  This country needs a change of attitude

towards invention and innovation and it starts with a renewed respect and

understanding of science and the diversity of people who make great things,”

said Dr. Alicia Abella, Executive Director, Network and IP Services Research

Lab AT&T Labs.

Other featured speakers and panelists for today’s briefing included Rep. Henry

Cuellar (TX-29), CHLI Vice-Chair; Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), Member, House

Committee on Education and Labor; Victor Torres, National Aeronautics and Space

Administration (NASA), and Frank Flores, Sector Vice President, Engineering,

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

As one of the nation’s leading Hispanic non-profit organization, CHLI also

announced its participation in a growing coalition to help drive and increase

the amount of Hispanics pursuing and graduating in Science, Technology,

Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.   The CHLI Congressional

Briefing Series is made possible with the generous support of Altria Client

Services.

About CHLI:

The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI, pronounced “chili”) is a

non-profit, non-partisan organization, based in Washington, D.C., that advances

the diversity of thought in U.S. Hispanic community in the public, private, and

non-profit sectors, as well as in the international community.  For more

information, please visit www.chli.org.  You may also connect with us on Facebook,

Twitter and LinkedIn.

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