EDINBURG, RGV – The 15th anniversary of the Hispanic, Engineering, Science and Technology Week opened with a HESTEC congressional dinner featuring the importance of minorities in the science, technology, engineering and math fields as well as the 84th Texas Legislature.

The Hispanic, Engineering, Science and Technology Week (HESTEC) was co-founded by U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, the representative for the 15th Congressional District of Texas. The week-long event ran from Oct. 2 through Oct. 8 encouraging careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields as well as different activities for the community.

“Fifteen years ago, we made a firm commitment to invest in our human capital–in response to projections that four out of every five jobs created in the coming decades will require advanced math and science skills,” Hinojosa told the Rio Grande Guardian. “One of these projections was published by Forbes Magazine, which showed that give of the top 15 ‘most valuable college majors’ in terms of starting salary, mid-career salary and long-term career prospects, are engineering majors.”

HESTEC was an initiative with one of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s legacy schools, the University of Texas Pan American. With the merger, HESTEC expanded its events to the Brownsville campus including their Robotics Competition.

The need for HESTEC not only focuses on encouraging others to pursue the STEM fields, but to promote those with a Hispanic, African American, Asian American, American Indian and Native Alaskan background.

Hinojosa said if the Valley does not invest in its students today, it will not have the skilled workforce we need to maintain our economy for tomorrow.

“HESTEC 2016 will lead the way toward meeting this challenge,” Hinojosa said. “This week brings together the stakeholders–federal agencies, the U.S. Congress, industry partners, educators, parents, and most importantly, students to create a pipeline for tomorrow’s workforce that will be technologically prepared for STEM and health related careers.”

Also in attendance was Congressman Filemon Vela, Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, UTRGV President Guy Bailey and state Rep. Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Lucio III, the representative for District 38.

Rep. Lucio said the dialogue at play is helping others understand the growing demographic of the Hispanic community needs to be educated and prepared to take their positions in leader and entrepreneurial roles.

“[HESTEC is] a great, great initiative,” Lucio said. “I think we attract other people who want to duplicate this initiative. … So, there’s incredible leadership here. We’re excited to be part of UTRGV. It’s really one of a kind and [we] look forward to continuing to support its growth.”

Editor’s Note: Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, presented U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (Texas District 15) and UTRGV President Guy Bailey with an award recognizing HESTEC as a “National Bright Spot in Hispanic Education,” during HESTEC Educator Day on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, at the Fieldhouse on the Edinburg Campus. (Photo Courtesy of Paul Chouy/UTRGV)