Fort Lewis College to host 17th annual AISES Conference on Feb. 23-24

DURANGO, COLO. -- The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) will hold its 17th annual AISES conference from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 and from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 in the College Union Building and science and engineering labs at Fort Lewis College. The theme for the 2006 conference is "Constructing Bridges to a Brighter Future."

More than 150 high school students and college and university representatives, over 25 high school advisors, approximately 45 corporate visitors, plus numerous professionals, keynote speakers and honorary representatives are scheduled to attend. The conference is a popular event that has brought many businesses to campus.

The annual conference held at Fort Lewis provides local and regional high school and community college students with resources to begin a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career by encouraging students to continue the path toward a four-year degree in the STEM fields.

The event also features hands-on workshops, discussion panel, science bowl, campus tour, college preparation workshop, information fair, career recruitment booths and more. Presenters and/or keynote speakers include Fort Lewis professors, alumni and students, plus well-known vendor supporters including IBM.

"AISES annual conferences bring significant role models to speak to our Native American students, our forthcoming future leaders," said Dar Gurr, previous CO-AMP project coordinator and interim AISES advisor at Fort Lewis.

"The event is an opportunity for all high school students to learn what college life is about," she added. "It gives the students an idea of what to look forward to and of the type of major he or she may want to pursue -- especially in the engineering and science fields -- but includes workshops, etc. for all majors."

The two-day conference is coordinated to run in conjunction with the Office of Career Services' career day program, scheduled for the same week. IBM is a major sponsor and participant in the conference and the career day program for several years now. A full schedule will be released at a later date.

Many workshops are presented to aid students in making future decisions with choosing a college and a future career.

Omnia El-Hakim, CO-AMP director and AISES advisor, will hold a workshop for advisors and educators called, "Teacher Professional Development."

"We are investing in education and enhancing diversity while maintaining Native American students' culture and tradition," she said.

Hands-on workshops will take place all day Thursday and Friday morning. A career fair, information booths, discussion panel, science bowl, campus tour and pizza party will be some of the other activities students can get involved with during the two-day event. A variety of successful companies will have information booths.

"Shadow Day," which introduces high school students to the college lifestyle, is another popular activity.

"AISES implements the shadowing experience with the workshop to obtain additional information on experiencing a typical college day schedule," said Gurr. "The conference focuses on making the transition from high school to college an enjoyable experience."

AISES invites all Fort Lewis students to contact them to be mentors for the attending high school students to shadow in their footsteps at regular classes on Shadow Day from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Feb. 23. Mentor students will receive the benefits of receiving free tickets for their meal and the high school student plus receiving satisfaction of fulfillment for volunteering their services.

"The Fort Lewis College AISES chapter promotes STEM classes to high school students by exposure to scientific and technology topics covered in the conference," said Crystal Sandoval, a Fort Lewis senior and vice president of the college's AISES chapter. "The conference elicits students' awareness and interest to pursue higher education and rewarding careers in the technological fields."

In past years, this event has attracted more than 200 American Indian high school and college students from the Four Corners area. Approximately 175 students from 20 high schools are expected to attend this year. Participating high schools included Coconino, Holbrook, Hopi, Montezuma-Cortez, Monument Valley, Pine Hill, Shiprock, Sinagua, Whitehorse and Wingate. Other schools include Kinali Bordertown Dormitory, Leupp School Incorporated, Southwest Open School and Sunrise Youth Shelter.

Contributions for supplies and other program expenses are welcome. Anyone wishing to make a contribution please make your checks payable to the Fort Lewis College Foundation, a separate nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization in support of Fort Lewis College. All contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Vendors are encouraged to set up career recruitment booths.

For more information, contact Crystal Sandoval, interim CO-AMP work study and AISES vice president at 505-419-0114 or cmsandoval@fortlewis.edu. Darrell Roberts and Jennifer Shewmake of Program for Academic Advancement are volunteering as interim co-advisors for the AISES organization and may be contacted at roberts_d@fortlewis.edu or shewmake_j@fortlewis.edu.

AISES is looking for a faculty or staff volunteer to become its advisor. Interested Fort Lewis faculty and staff members may contact any of the individuals listed above for more information.

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