Monday, October 15, 2018
  Science & Technology, Awards and Recognitions

By Letty Fernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Shell has been a longtime supporter of the Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and this year, the company has been honored with the HESTEC CIENCIA award, bestowed for the company’s focus on education.

Shell works to support programs like HESTEC that focus on increasing opportunities in technical careers for students, and professional development in science and math among educators.

HESTEC, now in its 17th year, is an award-winning program organized by the UTRGV Office of Governmental and Community Relations to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to thousands of children, their parents and teachers.

“HESTEC recognized the value of promoting awareness and pursuit of STEM careers seventeen years ago by aligning demand for these skills with workforce competitiveness and success” said Frazier Wilson, vice president for Shell Oil Company Foundation and director of Workforce Development. “This transformed UTRGV into an anchor for economic and community strengthening in South Texas. Through support of your efforts to improve the technical talent pipeline, Shell is honored to receive the Rubén Hinojosa Champions in Engineering and Science Advancement award, and the distinction this recognition bestows on our legacy partnership.”   

The CIENCIA award draws its name from the Spanish word for “science” and is based on an acronym for “Champions in Engineering and Science Advancement.” The award, which carries visual symbols related to STEM, was designed by two UTRGV students. The award was presented at a reception Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Performing Arts Complex on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus. Accepting the award on behalf of Shell was Tina Aguirre, IT manager Capital Projects Downstream and UnConventionals.

“On behalf of Shell, we hope that our legacy partnership with UTRGV and HESTEC, through our resources and our experiences, have added some real value to your outreach in STEM awareness, learning and work readiness,” Aguirre said. “We deeply appreciate this honor. You have always made us feel, not like a partner but more so like a family. This is a very special award to us and the journey has been our pleasure.”

Former U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, recipient of the first CIENCIA award in 2016, presented the award to Shell. In 2017, Dr. Tina Atkins, longtime educator with the Region One Education Service Center, received the honor.

“We are so grateful to Shell for its many years of support for the HESTEC program. Shell’s long-term, sustainable commitment to STEM education and workforce development has helped our program provide mentoring and networking opportunities to students,” said Velinda Reyes, UTRGV assistant vice president for Governmental and Community Relations. “They have helped transform our region over the years with a focus on the need for STEM education and a diverse workforce.”

HESTEC Week was held from Oct. 1-6 and brought thousands of elementary, middle and high school students, educators and parents to UTRGV campuses and classrooms to take part in presentations by world-renowned speakers, interactive educational exhibits, dynamic robotics competitions and more.

Visit to learn more about the program and events.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.