Out of the four groups under the Minority Engineering Program, Asian-Americans are the only group that does not have national representation in the professional world; however, that will soon change, and that change has started right here on Mines campus.
On Saturday, November 13, the Professional Asian Society of Engineers and Scientists (PASES) held their second annual regional conference in Berthoud Hall.
The theme of the conference, “From Potential to Kinetic,” represented the organization’s plans for future growth. Formerly known as the Asian Student Association (ASA), PASES is “a professional organization that is geared towards Asian-Americans, each and every collegiate engineering and science student,” explained Ricky Nguyen, President of PASES. While ASA provided cultural and social development for its members, PASES additionally provides professional networking and guidance.
Jyoti Gandhi, the PASES Public Relations Officer, expressed her opinion about the lack of a national organization for Asian-Americans, “Why don’t we have one? It’s like we’re the only one who doesn’t have a national career fair. [The National Society of Black Engineers] had their conference in Canada, and every company pays like a million dollars to have a booth in there. They want to hire those people, and, you know, why don’t we have that opportunity? So that’s what we’re gearing it for.” At this year’s conference, there were over 40 people in attendance, almost double from last year. Students came from schools all around the regional area including the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado at Denver, and Johnson and Wales University. Professional representatives from Jviation, Xcel Energy, and Xilinx were also present. “We hold these conferences basically to invite other schools that are starting their own PASES chapter. In the future we’re hopefully going to become a national organization with 200,000 people, 50 schools,” Nguyen said.
Students in attendance were not limited by their engineering or science major. “I’m a business major, so I came because I thought it’d be a good time to network and just to get some professional guidance,” said Travis Kiatoukaysi, a freshman at the University of Colorado at Boulder. PASES is slowly growing and will hopefully continue to grow as the years go on. Tina Li, an attendee from CU Boulder “decided to come and…try to start a chapter at CU boulder.” Victor Sam, an environmental engineer at CSU, started a chapter at his school after he came to last year’s conference. “There’s no kind of home base for Asian engineering and scientific students at our campus, at least professionally. So this is kind of the avenue for students to develop professionally and also give them a home… there’s ASCE, IEEE and stuff like that…but a lot of these students are a little bit more shy, and there’s actually a low involvement of Asian students in these organizations.” Sam is hoping that involvement in PASES will encourage Asian- American students at CSU to become more involved with other organizations as well.
Not only was the conference a great way to network with other students and professionals, but it was also a lot of fun. During the conference, students had time to socialize with one another as well as engage in a friendly engineering competition for prizes. After the closing speaker, PASES treated attendees out to bowling and a pho (noodle) dinner.
With their second successful regional conference over and plans to host a third, PASES has a promising future. “I think it was great to see the different Asian students from the five universities come together and see the potential and work together to create different chapters,” said Khanh Vu, Director of the Minority Engineering Program. “We have two now, and we’ll probably get one or two more, so we’ll almost double. Next year’s conference is going to be even better. The numbers and the potential are there, and this is part of the kinetics of making it happen.” Overall, the conference was a complete success and a step into the future.
If you’re interested in learning more about or joining PASES, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.