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SHPE Pilots New Equipando Padres University in Puerto Rico with Support from Raytheon Technologies


For many years SHPE chapters have delivered parent programming in conjunction with Noche de Ciencias pre-college events. Two years ago, SHPE began designing Equipando Padres to fill collegiate parent programming gap. “When we looked at nationwide programming, we found programming for first-generation-to-college parents, Hispanic parents, and engineering parents, but what was missing was programming at the intersection of the three,” says SHPE Chief Research & Innovation Officer, Dr. Kimberly D. Douglas. “That’s the gap the Equipando Padres program fills.”  Equipando Padres is a dedicated effort to provide parents of first-generation-to-college Hispanic students the knowledge and tools to better support their children earning engineering degrees.

Research shows that parent support is critical for student success. “We know from our experience with SHPE members, that Hispanic parents give their children all the emotional support possible. However, many of these parents haven’t gone through the college experience themselves so we equip them with the college knowledge necessary to provide their children with instrumental support,” says SHPE Director, Dr. Dayna L. Martínez. “That’s where the Equipando Padres program comes in!”  SHPE’s expertise is in designing curriculum that includes the cultural aspects critical to the Hispanic experience while addressing the specific challenges of pursuing an engineering career. The ultimate goal is to position parents and caregivers as an integral contributor to their student’s success.

The Equipando Padres program, supported by Raytheon Technologies, began by delivering one-hour workshops in conjunction with virtual pre-college events while we worked to develop content to launch Equipando Padres University. Equipando Padres University is a multi-year parent and caregiver experience that will parallel their child’s college experience earning an engineering degree. SHPE’s first offering in Equipando Padres University is a half-day experience for adult family members with children interested in pursuing engineering. It is delivered by engineering professionals, students, parents, and staff to support caregivers who have students currently interested in exploring engineering careers.

On February 18, 2023, SHPE launched the first of six offerings for this pilot program in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Over 26 parents completed the course with an additional 24 volunteers, facilitators, and SHPE staff in attendance. This included special support from two Universidad de Puerto Rico campuses – Mayagüez and Ponce. The Puerto Rico offering was delivered entirely in Spanish, but the remaining offerings will be delivered in both Spanish and English.

The day started with a warm welcome from Dr. Martínez and interim CEO, Miguel Alemañy. “This is a game changer for Hispanics in STEM,” Alemañy shared with the participants. “The future of STEM depends on the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and caregivers of this next generation supporting their children’s success. With your support, anything is possible.”

This first Equipando Padres University offering focuses on three critical topics: Why College, Choosing a College, and Preparing for College Visits. Participants have access to a complete set of resources during the session that can also be accessed virtually for ongoing support. These are available via the Equipando Padres website, and include a guidebook, a college ranking tool, a college visit scorecard and college visit budget template, informational videos, and, of course, swag. The guidebook is designed as a flip book – written in both Spanish and English.

The preliminary data from this event indicates success on multiple levels. Nearly 77% of participants say they now know more about the three main topics covered by the course. A whopping 95% said that after completing this first Equipando Padres University event, their confidence increased around supporting their child’s dream for a engineering education. When asked “how much do you feel you are part of the SHPE Familia” on a scale from 1-10 (with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “a lot”), the average rating was 9!

Another success? 100% indicated a 10 when asked how likely they are to recommend Equipando Padres University to others. We know from our research that the need  for these resources is out there, but we know from experience that our curriculum is endorsed by the people who matter most – our parent participants.

A huge thank you goes out to SHPE’s hard-working Equipando Padres team. Dr. Kimberly D. Douglas originally envisioned the program and built a partnership with Raytheon Technologies to make it a reality. The program was then developed and executed by Dr. Dayna Martínez, Enrique Guzmán, Liliana González, and Yajaira de La Paz.

We’re also indebted to Raytheon Technologies for their support of the program as the exclusive sponsor. “Without their financial support and collaborative vision, these life-changing events and materials would not be possible,” says interim CEO Miguel Alemañy. “Raytheon Technologies’ commitment to the future of Hispanics in STEM is truly a game changer.”

With the first offering a success, we’re full steam ahead with deploying Equipando Padres University across the nation this spring. Additional pilots were held in the Hialeah/Miami, FL area on March 11, and in Hacienda Heights, CA on March 25. Future dates will be announced for Tucson, AZ; Charlotte, NC; and a virtual session.

For more information and updates about Equipando Padres and Equipando Padres University, please sign up on our Equipando Padres website, or contact [email protected].