Owl statue

Temple University has long been affiliated with The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), an association that empowers the Hispanic community to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development. Now, Temple has been asked to join the new SHPE Academic Partnership Council. What is it and who does it help? Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Engineering Shawn Fagan, Ed.D., (pictured right) explains.

Temple University's College of Engineering recently joined the SHPE Academic Partnership Council. Can you describe what this program is about? Dr. Shawn Fagan

This initiative is a branch of SHPE that aims to pull in academic partnerships, or institutions, to be a part of how we can provide a pathway for Hispanic and Latinx students to pursue engineering degrees. We're one of 72 engineering institutions that are part of the organization and hopefully, we can be at the forefront of providing opportunities, scholarships and resources for students.

Who will the partnership with SHPE support and why do these students need the support?

It supports any Hispanic student interested in studying engineering. We signal to students who may not be well represented that we have partnerships in place that are intentionally developed so we can provide the right support for the student to be successful at Temple University.

Imagery is so important for students from underrepresented populations because oftentimes they may not see themselves or people that look like them in the engineering field and workforce so it's important for all students, but especially those from underrepresented populations to feel welcomed and supported. This is important because it can provide students with an opportunity to change the trajectory that they have been on, especially for first-generation students and their parents. 

What does partnering with SHPE's APC bring to the college?

Members of the Academic Partnership Council will actively contribute to the success of Hispanic people in engineering. We will partner with APC on new and innovative programs, which could be developing pre-college programs. There could be funding opportunities where there would be no cost to the participants so you're helping ease or eliminate financial barriers to allow students, who otherwise may not be able to afford the cost associated pre-college STEM programs, to participate in them.

We'll also have a network of 70 or so engineering schools/colleges across the country and be able to share some best practices and high-impact programs so we can better serve the local and regional Hispanic and Latino communities.

What inspired you to spearhead this partnership? And why now?

In my research I am interested in looking at ways to better serve underrepresented populations, like students of color, because they've been traditionally underrepresented in engineering. Philadelphia is a very diverse city and Temple's a diverse institution and we pride ourselves on being a diverse college. It's really come at a good time because we've started to expand our partnerships with high schools in Philadelphia and some of those schools that we've reached out to are predominantly Hispanic. When SHPE reached out to me, it just seemed like a no-brainer. 

SHPE centers on values of familia, service, education and resilience. How do these values connect with those of the College of Engineering?

Being a small college, our Dean always talks about how we're like a family. We take pride in getting to know our students by their names, who they are and where they're from. Students choose an engineering major because they have this altruistic feeling of wanting to make the world a better place. They choose engineering because they see it as a pathway to help people and solve problems.

How could this partnership be beneficial to current and future students?

It will hopefully signal to students that they're welcome here and that the College of Engineering and Temple is a place where they can be comfortable and feel supported. It's an environment where they can excel and reach their goals and be supported in reaching their goals. It'll also teach us what we can do better because we're still learning how to serve students, especially as student needs change over time.

Being a part of a network will help us provide the best services that we can and support students and figure out what they need to be successful here.

How can students get involved?

We'll have an event where all the student organizations have their tables lined up in the engineering lobby for students to learn more about all student organizations, including SHPE, and sign up or get on their email list. They can attend general body meetings and get involved that way.