Engineering Students Represent UTEP at Forbes Under 30 Summit
ANAHY DIAZ | December 6, 2019
Two College of Engineering students from the University of Texas at El Paso were selected as 2019 Forbes Under 30 Scholars, to help represent the institution at its annual summit for young leaders, founders, investors and creators that was held on Oct. 27-30 in Detroit, Michigan.
Mariana Briones, a senior electrical engineering major, and Sofia Ortega, a senior industrial and systems engineering major were part of the 1,000 participants who were named Forbes Under 30 Scholars. The Forbes scholarship program primarily focuses on providing scholarships that cover the attendance of the four-day summit for high-achieving college students from underrepresented backgrounds pursuing a career in STEM.
The students were selected for the program, after hearing about the opportunity through the social network, LinkedIn. They then proceeded to complete a two essay application process that focused on their experience and community engagement as part of an ethnic minority.
Ortega says the fact that many students from different universities were going to be there, as well as investors and founders, were the reasons that encouraged her to apply.
The program granted Briones and Ortega the opportunity to be among the 9,000 global attendees that participated at this year’s summit. From networking events, a private music festival to listening to over 200 leaders talk about topics including robotics, cybersecurity, the marketing industry and building billion-dollar companies, the summit allowed the students to network among professionals.
“The options and opportunities that you have to learn and meet people are unlimited,” Briones said. “The conversations were raw and real. I loved how they all gave actual attainable advice. I was able to hear how many entrepreneurs drastically changed their course regarding their careers, all because they believed they could even when no one else did.”
This year’s speakers included athlete Serena Williams, CEO of Serena Ventures; program engineering manager for General Motors Autonomous Vehicle group, Keysha Camp; and Tomas Pfister, head of research Google Cloud Al and co-founder of Apple’s central research group for Artificial Intelligence, among others.
Aside from attending panels, the students were also able to enjoy the various activities the summit had to offer, including taking professional headshots for their LinkedIn profiles, participating in videos for Cadillac, getting aura readings and attending a private music festival. Briones and Ortega also experienced the Startup Hub, where they heard members of the summit showcase their company to top entrepreneurs and investors for the chance to win a $250,000 media package.
Ortega recounts this activity as being her favorite part of the event.
“I was able to see all the entrepreneurs presenting their ideas,” she said. “How they found their passion and followed it and how they are now impacting people’s lives.”
The engineering students plan to apply what they've learned during their time in Detroit into their careers and other future endeavors. Briones said she plans to incorporate the decision making skills presentations she saw at the summit into her daily routine.
“Anyone can be in the speakers’ place. It is all a matter of wanting it. In reality, they have gone through the same struggles we have, but they were willing to put in the time and effort,” Briones said.
Like Briones, Ortega also left inspired by her experience at the summit. Her future plans include advocating for Latinos who are studying STEM degrees, creating companies and impacting the world.
“This was a very inspiring experience for me,” Ortega said. “After attending this summit I feel more prepared and motivated to continue with my studies and to follow the things I am passionate about.”
To learn more about the Forbes 30 Under 30 annual summit go to: https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30/2019/#9ac2eef63b03