College of Aeronautics and Engineering celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Robyn Berardi

The College of Aeronautics and Engineering celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month for the first time in the college’s history.

The celebration began Thursday with the Seminar on Hispanic Contributions to STEM which highlighted the STEM research findings of three Hispanic professors at Kent State University.

Richmond Nettey, the associate dean and professor of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, said there are two key reasons the college is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month for the first time.

“We want to support the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and also, it’s priority of students first,” Nettey said. “We want to support that in a way that brings scholars of the Hispanic background who look at different aspects of STEM because that’s essentially our area.”

The seminar included presentations from Veronica Dexheimer, an assistant professor of physics; Elda Hegmann, an assistant professor of biological sciences and chemical physics interdisciplinary program and Roberto Uribe-Rendon, a professor in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering.

Christina Bloebaum, the dean and professor of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering said diversity can enhance STEM.

“It’s so important, especially in our field of STEM, that you have that diversity where everyone is coming at a problem from a different angle,” Bloebaum said.

Roberto Uribe-Rendon believes diversity helps solve problems in STEM.

“When you have people from many different cultures working on the same problem, then you can see problems from different points of view and different directions and come up with ideas of how to get a solution much better,” Uribe-Rendon said.

The increasing number of Hispanics living in America contributes to the importance of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Nettey said.

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of July 2016 the Hispanic population in the United States reached 57.5 million.

Important Hispanic figures in STEM

·       Dr. Mario Molina, a Mexican-born chemist, won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for his research on the effects of man-made compounds to the ozone layer. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 for his work.

·       Dr. Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space in 1993 aboard the Discovery space shuttle. Ochoa was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA’s highest award.

·       Dr. Albert Baez, a Mexican-American physicist, co-invented the X-ray reflecting microscope. Baez served as the first head of the division of science teaching at UNESCO.


“Hispanic Heritage Month provides the opportunity to recognize the importance and contributions made by Hispanics to American society at large,” Nettey said.

Nettey hopes the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations will educate students on Hispanic scholars at Kent State and inspire and motivate students to excel in STEM.

This inspiration in students could lead to important advancements in society and breakthroughs in STEM, Nettey said.

“(I hope) more of our students will draw inspiration and motivation from the speakers realizing that if others can do it and others have done it so successfully then it’s possible for students today to do so successfully as well,” Nettey said.

The College of Aeronautics and Engineering will continue its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Friday with a Video Documentary on Hispanic Contributions to STEM.

To register for the Video Documentary on Hispanic Contributions to STEM event, visit:

Robyn Berardi is a diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].