National Engineering Conference in Detroit Focuses on Growing Talent Pipeline

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More than 5,000 professional and student engineers are expected to attend the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers’ annual conference, considered the largest gathering of its kind in the country. The event kicks off today and runs through Sunday at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

Patti Poppe, a keynote speaker and spokeswoman for Consumers Energy, says the national conference one way that the organization is addressing the fact that 50 percent of the country’s technical workforce is expected to retire over the next eight years.

“Engineering is at the heart of innovation, and for all of the opportunities to innovate and improve every industry and field, the demand for engineers far exceeds the number of actual capable people,” Poppe says. “Everyone is talking about job creation. We definitely have the technical careers and jobs, we just need people prepared to do them.”

In an effort to build the talent pipeline, Poppe says the conference will host a full-day STEM fair on Friday at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, during which there will be workshops and science activities that expose students to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. This is in addition to the many workshops, corporate tours, and lectures offered in at Cobo Center this week. 

Poppe also notes that this is the first time the conference has been held in Motown, which she says is a major milestone and speaks to the city’s resurgence. “For a long time, I don’t think people would have considered to bring this type of a conference to Detroit. It’s great for us because we’re always trying to recruit people to come work in Michigan, and this is a wonderful way for us to show off what a cool place our state is.”

Local businesses such as General Motors Co. will have a major presence at the show. Chevrolet has donated a 2014 Chevy Spark to be raffled in support of the organization’s goal to raise more than $250,000 for its foundation.

“We are thrilled to welcome SHPE to Detroit as it celebrates 40 years serving as a vital resource for Latinos in STEM,” says GM President Dan Ammann. “GM wants to be the employer of choice for Hispanic engineers and this conference is a great opportunity to strengthen our relationship with this important community.”For more information about the conference, or to register, click here

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