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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Featured: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, during Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week (HESTEC).
Photograph By DAVID PIKE

Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week (HESTEC), held October 4 through October 10 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, drew thousands of visitors to its hometown, and generated positive regional and statewide attention to the city, which helps create more jobs and additional business, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American astronaut to walk in space and a medical doctor by trade, journalist Soledad O’Brien, who is a former CNN and NBC anchor, Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balar, comedian Paul Rodríguez, and Miss Texas USA Ylianna Guerra were among the numerous renowned figures who shared their talents, insights and wisdom with thousands of Valley students, encouraging them to finish their education, attend college or university, and consider the STEM, medical and information technology fields,” said Mayor Richard García. STEM is an acronym (abbreviation) for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. But the attention generated by such high-profile individuals has both immediate as well as long-term positive economic impact on Edinburg, the mayor noted. “Thousands of people come into Edinburg for HESTEC every year, and we see it in more money being spent by those visitors in our local economy,” said Mayor García. “But as with all major events that are hosted in Edinburg, the eyes of the rest of the state, and throughout the nation are on us. As a result, our residents, visitors, potential residents, business owners, political leaders, and investors are reminded that Edinburg is where the action is, that we are the place to be. That results in more people and businesses wanting to stay here, move here, and invest here.” Mark Iglesias, EEDC Board President – an environmental biologist who is an alumni of The University of Texas-Pan American with a biology degree – said HESTEC this year also drew significant attention to a major new facility which broke ground at the Edinburg campus. “On the first day of HESTEC, university and community leaders celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $70 million Science Research Building on the Edinburg campus,” said Iglesias. “This is reportedly the largest facility, once it is completed, that will be on the Edinburg campus, spanning 115,000 square feet. But I am confident this is just the tip of the iceberg.” According to UTRGV leaders, the mayor’s and the EEDC board president’s optimism is well-founded and visionary. HESTEC, which was held from October 4 to October 10, 2015, addresses documented concerns that South Texas, Texas, and the country’s scientific and economic stability will face continued challenges without an increase in the number of students entering STEM, medical and information technology fields. From worker shortages, to the loss of high- paying jobs, to the loss of critical research and manufacturing resources, the lack of STEM graduates will have a significant impact on the country. In welcome remarks, Founding UTRGV President Guy Bailey said that, in his long career in higher education, he has never before seen an investment in a university like the one for UTRGV. “Our (UT System) Board of Regents has invested half a billion dollars of PUF money for UTRGV. It speaks to the confidence that the System has in us, and that the State of Texas has in us,” he said. “It is a great time in our history. It is a unique time in our history. And it is up to us to take full advantage of that.” The Permanent University Fund (PUF) is a public endowment that draws its revenues from oil, gas, and land leases to benefit the University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems. Funding for the Science Research Building was approved by the UT System Board of Regents in November 2013. The 115,000-gross-square-foot, four-story structure, designed by the San Antonio architectural firm Muñoz and Company, will be located adjacent to the current three-story science building that was built in 1998, and will complement the existing campus architecture. It will include classrooms, teaching labs, faculty and researcher offices, an instrumentation research and teaching core, and research labs supporting biological and physical sciences, including biology, physics, chemistry, math, pre-med and environmental studies. EEDC Executive Director Gus García, Jr. emphasized that the EEDC and the Edinburg City Council invest in promoting the best interests of UTRGV in Edinburg, both before the Texas Legislature, and in partnership with UTRGV leaders and the UT System Board of Regents. “The EEDC and the Edinburg City Council, through their direct participation, by guiding our state and national legislative consulting firms, and most important, in partnership with our state and legislative delegations, serve as champions for UTRGV in Edinburg in Austin and in Washington, D.C.,” said Gus García, Jr. “A university cannot lot lobby the Texas Legislature, but the Edinburg City Council and the EEDC can, and we do. That is also how we now have a major campus of a UT medical school now under construction in our city.” The planned UTRGV School of Medicine, which is currently constructing a $54 million medical education building, and the existing $20 million Regional Academic Health Center Medical Research Division, which opened in 2006, are both located on a separate 11.6 acre site, formerly administered by the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, all which are now are part of the UTRGV campus and under UTRGV’s governance, the EEDC Executive Director added.

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Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week at UTRGV reminds Texas and nation that “Edinburg is the place to be”, say EEDC leaders

By DAVID A. DIAZ
legislativemedia@aol.com

Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week (HESTEC), held October 4 through October 10 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, drew thousands of visitors to its hometown, and generated positive regional and statewide attention to the city, which helps create more jobs and additional business, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members.

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American astronaut to walk in space and a medical doctor by trade, journalist Soledad O’Brien, who is a former CNN and NBC anchor, Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balar, comedian Paul Rodríguez, and Miss Texas USA Ylianna Guerra were among the numerous renowned figures who shared their talents, insights and wisdom with thousands of Valley students, encouraging them to finish their education, attend college or university, and consider the STEM, medical and information technology fields,” said Mayor Richard García.

STEM is an acronym (abbreviation) for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

But the attention generated by such high-profile individuals has both immediate as well as long-term positive economic impact on Edinburg, the mayor noted.

“Thousands of people come into Edinburg for HESTEC every year, and we see it in more money being spent by those visitors in our local economy,” said Mayor García. “But as with all major events that are hosted in Edinburg, the eyes of the rest of the state, and throughout the nation are on us. As a result, our residents, visitors, potential residents, business owners, political leaders, and investors are reminded that Edinburg is where the action is, that we are the place to be. That results in more people and businesses wanting to stay here, move here, and invest here.”

Mark Iglesias, EEDC Board President – an environmental biologist who is an alumni of The University of Texas-Pan American with a biology degree – said HESTEC this year also drew significant attention to a major new facility which broke ground at the Edinburg campus.

“On the first day of HESTEC, university and community leaders celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $70 million Science Research Building on the Edinburg campus,” said Iglesias. “This is reportedly the largest facility, once it is completed, that will be on the Edinburg campus, spanning 115,000 square feet. But I am confident this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to UTRGV leaders, the mayor’s and the EEDC board president’s optimism is well-founded and visionary.

HESTEC, which was held from October 4 to October 10, 2015, addresses documented concerns that South Texas, Texas, and the country’s scientific and economic stability will face continued challenges without an increase in the number of students entering STEM, medical and information technology fields. From worker shortages, to the loss of high- paying jobs, to the loss of critical research and manufacturing resources, the lack of STEM graduates will have a significant impact on the country.

In welcome remarks, Founding UTRGV President Guy Bailey said that, in his long career in higher education, he has never before seen an investment in a university like the one for UTRGV.

“Our (UT System) Board of Regents has invested half a billion dollars of PUF money for UTRGV. It speaks to the confidence that the System has in us, and that the State of Texas has in us,” he said. “It is a great time in our history. It is a unique time in our history. And it is up to us to take full advantage of that.”

The Permanent University Fund (PUF) is a public endowment that draws its revenues from oil, gas, and land leases to benefit the University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems. Funding for the Science Research Building was approved by the UT System Board of Regents in November 2013.

The 115,000-gross-square-foot, four-story structure, designed by the San Antonio architectural firm Muñoz and Company, will be located adjacent to the current three-story science building that was built in 1998, and will complement the existing campus architecture. It will include classrooms, teaching labs, faculty and researcher offices, an instrumentation research and teaching core, and research labs supporting biological and physical sciences, including biology, physics, chemistry, math, pre-med and environmental studies.

EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. emphasized that the EEDC and the Edinburg City Council invest in promoting the best interests of UTRGV in Edinburg, both before the Texas Legislature, and in partnership with UTRGV leaders and the UT System Board of Regents.

“The EEDC and the Edinburg City Council, through their direct participation, by guiding our state and national legislative consulting firms, and most important, in partnership with our state and legislative delegations, serve as champions for UTRGV in Edinburg in Austin and in Washington, D.C.,” said Gus García, Jr. “A university cannot lobby the Texas Legislature, but the Edinburg City Council and the EEDC can, and we do, very effectively. That is also how we now have a major campus of a UT medical school now under construction in our city, and more to come.”

The planned UTRGV School of Medicine, which is currently constructing a $54 million medical education building, and the existing $20 million Regional Academic Health Center Medical Research Division, which opened in 2006, are both located on a separate 11.6 acre site, formerly administered by the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, all which are now are part of the UTRGV campus and under UTRGV’s governance, the EEDC Executive Director added.

Mayor Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

SCIENCE BUILDING ANNEX “CREATING THE FUTURE” FOR EDINBURG, SOUTH TEXAS

The Science Research Building will support 21st-century classroom and teaching pedagogies by providing additional group study rooms, collaboration spaces, huddle rooms located throughout the facility, and flexible classrooms and teaching labs supported with AV and IT technologies for long-distance and enhanced learning.

The project was championed by Dr. Sadiq Shah, vice provost of Research and Sponsored Projects, and Marta-Salinas Hovar, associate vice president for Facilities Planning & Operations.

Shah said construction of the building is a major step toward UTRGV’s goal of becoming an emerging research university in the next five to seven years.

“We will really be shaping the next generation of scientists by allowing them the opportunities to be exposed to major research instrumentation, hands-on research in biomedical sciences, biology, chemistry and physics. So we are really creating the future of the Rio Grande Valley here with this building,” Shah said.

Described as “science on display,” the first floor of the building will consolidate all the major research instrumentation on campus and feature many glass walls so it will be visible and accessible to anyone on campus, including students on a tour or private industry who might want to collaborate with our researchers, Shah said.

“We want to encourage people to participate in collaborative research, and people can’t collaborate unless they know what exists there and who to contact,” he said.

The groundbreaking was a special event for Dr. Scott Gunn, professor of biology, who was involved in the design of the older, adjacent Science Building, and provided advice on the needs of faculty and students in the new building.

“I told them we needed research space for all the sciences, especially with becoming an emerging research university,” he said. “I’m excited. I have been working on this idea for years. It is a great day and will be a greater day in two years when it is completed.”

Valley native Ernest Aliseda, a former Edinburg resident who is an attorney in McAllen, is a member of the UT System Board of Regents who was appointed by the board as a special liaison on South Texas projects.

Aliseda praised everyone involved in the creation of UTRGV, including the leaders of UTRGV’s legacy institutions and the Valley legislative delegation. He also touted the influence UTRGV will have on future generations in the Valley.

“We will have a positive impact in literally saving lives through education, research and medical care,” he said. “I’m proud to be here on the behalf of the Board of Regents, and to say that we are part of something that is greater than ourselves. There is so much promise in UTRGV. UTRGV will not only change the Valley, but our state, forever.”

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Gail Fagan contributed to this article. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://www.EdbgCityLimits.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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