In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, A.R. Brouwer celebrates the achievements of the Hispanic community in the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. This article highlights the contributions and tremendous impact of the Hispanic and Latino communities on our industry. Hispanics are a vital labor source in the United States construction industry (one in three workers in the US construction industry is Hispanic). And that number has been increasing rapidly over the past two decades. They comprise 31.5 percent of construction employment compared to 18.8 percent across all industries.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Celebrated for an Entire Month?
Every year since September 1989, when President George H.W. Bush declared September 15-October 15th would be Hispanic Heritage Month, Americans celebrate the contributions and importance of Hispanics and Latinos to the United States. Their ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th because it marks the independence of multiple Latin American countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, followed by the Independence of Mexico on September 16th and Chile’s on September 18th Columbus Day, known as “El Día de la Raza,” is celebrated on October 12th. The end of Hispanic Heritage Month is on October 15th.
Diversity of the Hispanic and Latin American People
“Hispanic” and “Latino” are pan-ethnic terms meant to describe – and summarize – the population of people of that ethnic background living in the U.S. In practice, the Census Bureau most often uses the term “Hispanic.” In contrast, Pew Research Center uses the words “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably when describing this population.
HISPANIC: a person who comes from or is a descendant of a Spanish-speaking country. These countries include Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
LATINO: a person who comes from or is a descendant of a Latin American country. Latin America is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America and Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean, whose inhabitants speak a Romance language. The peoples of this large area shared the experience of conquest and colonization by the Spaniards and Portuguese.
- North and Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
- South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
- Caribbean: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and dependencies and constituent entities; Guadeloupe, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint-Martin
According to the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers, “This year’s theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” The theme “encourages us to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation.
Some Notable Architects and Engineers
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, known as Oscar Niemeyer, was a Brazilian architect considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture.
Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín was a Mexican architect and engineer. His work has influenced contemporary architects both visually and conceptually. International students and professors of architecture frequently visit Barragán’s buildings.
Diana Trujillo immigrated to the U.S. at 17 to pursue her dream of working for NASA. She is an aerospace engineer, the Technical Group Supervisor for Sequence Planning and Execution, and a Tactical Mission Lead for the Mars Perseverance rover.
Ellen Ochoa is a Mexican American engineer, former astronaut, and the current director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa became director of the center upon the retirement of the previous director, Michael Coats, on December 31, 2012. She is the first Latina to assume this position in the organization’s history. In 1993, Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space while serving on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery.
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a Spanish architect and structural engineer known for his bridges supported by single-leaning pylons and his railway stations, stadiums, and museums. He is also a sculptor and painter whose sculptural forms resembled living organisms.
The list above is just a few notable Hispanic architects and engineers. The contributions of Hispanics to the United States are countless, not just in the AEC industry. The Hispanic culture’s diversity is “nurtured by their rich ethnic heritage and inspired by their faith in the principles upon which this country was founded. Hispanic Americans have continued to make their mark across the country and every aspect of American life.” ~George H.W. Bush
About the Author
Barbara Hernandez Alvarado is a senior at the University of Michigan studying Civil Engineering and was a Construction Management intern at A.R. Brouwer. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and enjoyed subjects like calculus and physics as a young student. With her parents’ encouragement, she decided to study engineering in the United States. Her mother and grandmother also motivated her to find a career where she could apply her education, skills, and help others succeed.
Before transferring to the University of Michigan, Barbara earned an Associate in Arts with the “Highest Honors” from Broward College in Davie, Florida. Initially, she found it challenging to choose a specific major because she wanted to learn more about every engineering branch. However, while at Broward College, her professors became mentors who encouraged her to pursue Civil Engineering. Her time at Broward College enabled her to thrive in STEM and become fluent in English. The University of Michigan is preparing her to embark on new journeys and adapt successfully to any environment. Barbara knows that engineering is still a male-dominated industry, but she is determined to succeed. She finds ways to solve problems efficiently and think innovatively. She is also eager to gain the experience required to stand out as an engineer, prepared to support technological advancement and help those who need it most.