When Juan Castillo looks around his computer and engineering classes at California State University, Fresno, he sees students of Anglo, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern descent. But not many Hispanics.
It’s a real problem, says Raymond G. Mellado, chief executive officer of the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference. Hispanics represent 12.5% of the population nationally, he says, but only 6.7% of the enrollment in engineering schools across the nation.
“We have a tremendous crisis on our hands,” he says. Fresno State’s college of engineering, Radio Bilingue and the Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana are joining forces in an effort to attract more Hispanics to technology-related careers.
Representatives of all three organizations, along with Mellado, Castillo and fellow Fresno State student Gustavo Razo, participated in a live news conference Saturday at Radio Bilingue’s East Belmont Avenue offices announcing the joint effort. The news conference was broadcast over Radio Bilin-gue’s network, which reaches listeners in the Salinas, San Joaquin and Imperial valleys.
Radio Bilingue will produce a series of public service announcements, talk shows and dramas to encourage Hispanics to choose technology-based careers. The hourlong programs aim to “change the culture” of Hispanic families, says Hugo Morales, executive director of Radio Bilingue. As such, the programs will be geared to Hispanics in high school and middle school and to their parents. Oscar Pulido Torres, president of Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana, says there must be a “demysti-fication” of math and science: The two areas aren’t just for geniuses.
The programs produced by Radio Bilingue will not only be broadcast on its network, but also will be picked up by at least 35 stations nationwide, Morales says, as well as XHITT, the Instituto Tecno-lógico de Tijuana’s radio station, which broadcasts to the Tijuana and San Diego areas.
Mellado says Hispanics must look into technology careers not only because that is where a majority of the nation’s job growth will occur, but also because many other jobs will require computer and technology knowledge. Also, he says, Hispanic students must start taking four years of mathematics in high school, as well as four years of science. Mellado says if more Hispanics do not major in technology-related fields, the United States will lose its edge as the world’s technology leader. In the meantime, Castillo is nearing a degree in computer engineering and jobs will be there.
Says Jesus Larralde-Muro, a Fresno State professor of civil engineering who participated in Saturday’s news conference: “The job market is very, very good, and it’s going to improve.”