At the recent conference of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in Baltimore, BYU took home the Academic Olympiad national title, besting teams from universities around the country.
The competition pits three-person teams of Hispanic engineering students against one another, testing them in all aspects of physics, engineering, and mathematics. The BYU team members were Derek Sanchez, Ricardo Meza, and Humberto Detrinidad Arguello.
In three rounds of increasing difficulty, the team answered engineering questions in a competitive Jeopardy!-style format in front of hundreds of students from universities across the United States. Both speed and accuracy were critical to the BYU team’s success.
Just before the final round, their advisor, Brian Mazzeo, BYU professor of electrical engineering, strategized with the team to take a conservative approach, which paid off.
BYU and Drexel University were neck and neck until the final open-ended question. BYU answered correctly, winning the competition and taking home the national title. As a reward, each of the students received $1,250.
Mazzeo said, “For our students this was an extremely positive event and a proud moment for the SHPE chapter and college. BYU had never won this competition before this year, so this was a notable accomplishment.”
The BYU team members come from a variety of locations. Derek Sanchez is a mechanical engineer from Princeton, New Jersey. Ricardo Meza is a mechanical engineer from Tula, Mexico. Humberto Detrinidad Arguello is a mechanical engineer from Managua, Nicaragua.
The national SHPE organization was founded in Los Angeles in 1974 by a group of engineers working for that city. Their mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize their greatest potential to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development.