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9/26/2022 8:15:33 AM
A team of seven students from several departments within The Grainger College of Engineering recently earned recognition for its efforts through the Outstanding Graduate Development Award presented by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
Two of the seven students, Federico Cifuentes-Urtubey and Samuil Donchev, are a part of Illinois Computer Science.
Their efforts through SHPE are tied to the organization’s role as the nation’s largest association dedicated to fostering Hispanic leadership in the STEM field.
“During my undergraduate years at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), I helped charter the SHPE chapter there. I was heavily involved with it, and after learning about the SHPE chapter here at Illinois, I felt I could contribute more if I stayed involved,” said Cifuentes-Urtubey, a fifth-year PhD student. “This motivation helped form the Graduate Development Team in our chapter here, which included both undergraduates and grad students from various engineering departments.”
Through his role as Graduate Ambassador in the SHPE chapter on campus between 2018-2022, Cifuentes-Urtubey said he wanted to help the Graduate Development Team focus on event ideas that helped undergraduate students learn how to prepare for grad school and supported graduate students outside of academics.
He helped connect students to companies, national labs, and university staff through professional and leadership development events.
“We needed to create a space where Hispanic students could exclusively connect with professional engineers, because it can be difficult for students to have that opportunity outside of career fairs that typically happen at the beginning of each semester,” Cifuentes-Urtubey said. “Another goal of ours is to build a community because it can be difficult to find other Hispanic people pursuing advanced degrees within our respective departments.”
For the past two years that he’s been involved, Donchev remained motivated by finding an RSO full of people that had a focus on growing academically and professionally. He’s enjoyed finding a community that shares experiences similar to his.
Donchev is proud that the work devoted to organizing workshops and talks connecting members to university faculty and leading engineering companies has paid off with this recognition.
“It means a lot to have our efforts acknowledged in such a way,” said Donchev, an undergraduate student at Illinois CS. “I have only been part of SHPE’s Graduate Development team for two years, and it is great to see the efforts of everyone who has been on the team paying off. Federico and everyone else are all extremely hard working, and we could not have achieved so much if we did not all do it together.
“Providing the SHPE familia with resources to succeed is our number one goal, and we will keep doing that.”
Department of Computer Science
Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science
Illinois Computer Science in Chicago
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The Grainger College of Engineering
University of Illinois
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