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NSWC Crane, IU’s La Casa partner to provide programming for Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

By Audrey C. Deiser, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | Oct. 13, 2020

Crane, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) and Indiana University’s (IU) La Casa/Latino Cultural Center collaborated for an Oct. 7 panel event at 7 PM. Four Hispanic and/or Latinx Crane professionals spoke and answered questions on a panel hosted by La Casa. La Casa provides programming, support, and opportunities for Latino students at IU.

“We’re excited for this partnership so we can connect local professionals with our students,” said Lillian Casillas, La Casa Director. “Some are first generation college students who need to know, outside of schooling, how to find career opportunities.”

Luis Bastidas, current Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) leader at NSWC Crane and previous Special Emphasis Program Lead for Hispanics, worked with Casillas to forge the partnership.

“I moved here from Florida, and I didn’t know anyone here in Indiana and I wanted to get involve in the community, that’s when I found Crane SHPE and the Special Emphasis Program for Hispanics. This brought me closer to my Hispanic/Latin culture roots,” said Bastidas, a mechanical engineer. “I want this partnership to help create a support system for Hispanic/Latin background individuals such as myself to feel welcome in the area.”

The efforts began when Bastidas reached out to the cultural center in 2019, hoping to create mutually beneficial programming. Once IU went remote and Crane implemented max telework, the duo had to pivot and plan virtual networking and educational opportunities.

The panelists shared their stories from college major selection to their current positions, their experiences as professionals, and advice for students. Panelists included Bastidas, Mechanical Engineer Samuel Serrano-Vargas, MBSE Chief Engineer Matt Romero, Deputy Division Manager Michael Gonzalez, Customer Advocate Esteban Rico, and NSWC Crane Lead Recruiter John Bings.

“We want this to be a symbiotic relationship,” said Casillas. “NSWC Crane can provide the speakers, mentors, etc. and La Casa provides resources and ways for Crane employees to be involved in the Latino community.”

Casillas and Bastidas both said they hope Crane and La Casa working together will help embed NSWC Crane Hispanic and Latino professionals into the Bloomington community.

“Workplace culture is crucial to workforce output,” said Bastidas. “Helping Crane professionals feel more included can only benefit our mission to innovate solutions for soldiers and sailors.”

Bastidas sees a bright future for the partnership. He said he wants to see webinars, guest speakers, activities, and in-person events when safe to do so.

“I want people to learn about Crane, and for Crane to learn more about Hispanic and Latinx culture,” said Bastidas. “I also hope our partnership with La Casa is a turning point for Crane, and other cultural groups reach out to community resources to form relationships like this.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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