National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

In the early 1970s, only 20 percent of minority engineers stayed in the engineering program after their first year. With this low retention rate, there was a large disparity in the student population. John Logan, Edward Coleman, George Smith, Stanley Kirtley, Brian Harris, and Anthony Harris, became known as the Chicago Six, as they took action to help their fellow students. In 1975, they founded the Black Society of Engineers (BSE) with the help of their advisor Arthur Bond at Purdue. Anthony Harris proposed changing the name to Society of Black Engineers (SBE) in 1976 and he began reaching out to engineering programs and advisors throughout the nation, proposing a national organization and collaboration. In 1976, the first national conference was held at Purdue University and included participation from 32 schools and 48 students from all parts of the country. The name was changed, once again, to National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and has grown tremendously, both on Purdue’s campus, and throughout the nation. There are now 250 student organizations nationwide.

NSBE’s mission statement is to “increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.” While the national chapter has a goal of graduating 10,000 black engineers by the year 2025, the Purdue chapter has some specific goals, set by president emeritus Malachi Boyd including retaining 90% of each year’s members, penetrating 75% of enrolled black engineers, attaining a minimum 3.0 semester GPA for each member, strengthening pre-collegiate initiatives with local schools, and influencing university policy in diversity. In order to achieve these goals, the Purdue chapter has a point system that keeps track of member involvement and activity, with scholarships awarded to the members with the most points. They also have study tables and weekly tutoring services for difficult classes and professional development programs and workshops. To reach out to local schools, the Purdue chapter is currently planning an event called NSBE Day, targeting minority students to teach them about engineering and hopefully exciting and inspiring them to pursue engineering. Nationally, NSBE has programs such as Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (S.E.E.K.), A Walk for Education, and a scholarship reward system to introduce and encourage students about engineering and education.

In describing NSBE, Malachi said, “NSBE captivates you in its impact to affect and inspire so many students and professionals to be great and achieve beyond measure. Academic support and professional development is great to build, but NSBE’s culture is one that invites you to give back and work hard for others.” When asked if he would recommend NSBE to other students, Malachi responded, “I would definitely recommend NSBE to anyone, not just engineering students specifically, because NSBE cares. Though our chapter focuses heavily on black engineers, we are not engineering or black specific. We are here to help assist you to be your best academically, professionally, and culturally.”

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