by Strauder Patton, P.E. National Alumni Extension Chair

In this final message as your NSBE Alumni Extension Chairperson, I wanted to share some of my personal reflections, leadership perspectives and future expectations.  2011-12 was a remarkable year for the NSBE Alumni Extension.  At the beginning of this year, our national leadership inspired a challenge to the Society that it’s time that we focus the professionals of NSBE – a group that has the most potential to grow in the Society and a group that plays such an important role in our Society’s success.   Right now NSBE has nearly 6,000 professional members in the Society and we graduate over 1,500 student members a year.  Which is great, but we can still do so much more to meet our potential. In response to this challenge, a National Focus was inspired by NSBE leadership that we want to emphasize Building NSBE’s Professional Brand.  This year we had some great accomplishments achieve this focus and yet there were some areas that we felt short in.  All in all, we can look back on this year and know that our leadership and our chapters helped to make a positive mark on our Society. 

I am proud of our many NSBE Alumni Extension successes this year:

  • Improving the brand of NSBE Professionals and further increasing the value of national membership.
  • Improving our communications to the membership:  More targeted, effective communication methods.  Also, the launching of our new state-of-art national NSBE AE website in April to serve as the communication hub. The website will eventually include national news, job resources, and chapter development resources.
  • Launching a joint national professional development conference in October 2012.  Improving the event offerings and content for the national AE Summit.
  • Record corporate sponsorship revenue and national partners for NSBE Alumni Extension which provides more resources for our programs and chapters.  In addition, our members have direct career access to these companies looking for professionals.  Our top 2011-12 partners included companies such as Northrop Grumman, Life Technologies, General Electric, McKesson, NASA and many others.
  • Increasing our NSBE AE active chapters from 51 to 57.  Seeing more chapter activity and growth in our larger cities: Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
  • A new, growing national partnership with the National Urban League Young Professionals to focus on STEM in our communities.

As you can see, the NSBE Professionals brand is emerging and we need to continue to develop it so we can be the organization of choice for black technical professionals.  Unfortunately, the NSBE Professionals name change did not pass this year (136-yes, 6-no, 58-absentee: Need 75% of senators in favor to pass), but I’m confident it will certainly pass in 2013.  In order to achieve our 2020 Vision “NSBE to be premier organization for black technical professionals”, I feel that we still have work to do in enhancing that NSBE Professional membership value.  In February, we released a survey to our membership on what it would take to increase their NSBE value and over 40% of our membership wants professional development, 30% wants chapter development, and 11% is giving back.  We invest in our members and the more members we will retain, the more successful our chapters will be, the more impactful we will be in our communities and then Mission will be achieved. 

2011-12 National Alumni Extension Board with Actor Boris Kodjoe

Furthermore, meeting our NSBE membership value is not just a national challenge, but it is just as important at the local chapter level.  As a result, we will need to focus more on seeing our local professional chapters succeed.  The NSBE experience is much more than conferences and events (in fact no more than 15% of our overall membership attends NSBE conferences).  We’ve made progress to improve developing our professional chapters by removing Regional conferences so our Regional Boards can focus on chapters, hosting chapter development workshops at our conferences, and inspiring a national partnership with organizations such as the Urban League Young Professionals to promote local NSBE chapter participation.  However, we don’t do the best job at giving chapter feedback (and we will improve this).  Also, we need to improve on sharing best chapter practices from our strong, developed chapters like Washington D.C., Indianapolis, and Huntsville.  In addition, over 35% of our NSBE members are in Africa.  We need to nurture our relationships with our international chapters and help meet their needs.

Some final NSBE leadership perspectives that I would like to share with you: First, As National Chairperson, I hardly ever had all the answers, but I surrounded myself with talented people, I encouraged accountability and transparency with the membership, and I was active and hands-on with my leadership. I feel that took us far.  Second, as a Society we will see better results when our actions reflect on “where we are going” versus “what new program to launch or fix”.  As engineers, our first instinct in NSBE is to design a new program.  There is a time and place for that.  We need to maximize resources and commitment to our actions that are aligned with the vision.

It’s been a pleasure to serve the NSBE membership as National Alumni Chairperson.  It truly has been a meaningful experience for me that I will never forget.  I want to personally thank the all chapters and leaders in NSBE for your work this year.  Congratulations to all of our National NSBE Award winners.  I look forward to our future and the growing role our NSBE Professionals will have in our Society.  Thanks to you all for your support of the NSBE Mission. 


Strauder C. Patton IV, P.E.
National Alumni Extension Chairperson

Posted: 4/16/2012 11:34:22 AM by Brenda | with 0 comments

by Strauder Patton, P.E.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is labeled as the Father of Black History, quotes “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated… Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” Even though Black History Month is widely celebrated and recognized in our everyday media outlets and advertisements, we should take it a step further and leverage our local NSBE chapters to promote the past, present and future contributions of blacks in the areas of science and technology.  Our vision makes more sense and our future contributions will be even more impactful if we are aware of our legacies in history. 

I encourage you to use this month to celebrate and to make your chapter members and corporate affinity groups aware of African-Americans who have made contributions to science and technology.  There are many methods to get the message across:  Send daily or weekly messages on Black History facts, host a chapter event to promote Black History Month, partner with another organization, or support a community impact event.  The point is that it is important to be active in February.  In addition, I suggest that we don’t limit the visibility to only past history, there are so many successful black engineers making things happen today in the present.  For example:  Don Thompson, President of McDonalds, Dr. Gary May, Dean of Georgia Tech School of Engineering, Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and Mel Williams, Deputy Secretary Department of Energy.  If you are hosting a Black History Month event with your NSBE chapter, please email me chair@nsbe-ae.org your pictures and information, so we can make sure to promote you in our NSBE national communications.

Secondly, Engineers Week (many call it E-Week) will also take place this month (February 19 – 25, 2012).  This week is a great opportunity for us to reach out to our communities to promote the industry and the contributions that engineers make on society.  I intend to visit a few middle and high schools and speak on the engineering industry and what it’s like to be an engineer.  While our NSBE local chapters may participate in similar outreach-type activities throughout the year, it is encouraged that we all are involved together with the national groups and societies who participate in this special week.  In fact, NSBE has been a national partner with E-Week for many years.  There are many ways to be engaged in E-Week activities if your chapter is interested in partnering in an event.  In addition, every major city and university should be sponsoring their own special program. For more information in ways to be involved with Engineers Week, please visit http://www.eweek.org/GetInvolved/GetInvolved.aspx.  Once again, please forward me your event pictures and information so we can promote your chapters.
February is an impactful month to carry of the NSBE Mission, so let’s take the advantage of these opportunities! 

Take care,


Send your comments to chair@nsbe-ae.org.

Visit us at www.nsbe-ae.org and follow Strauder on Twitter @NSBE_AE_Chair.


Posted: 2/13/2012 10:06:49 AM by Brenda | with 0 comments

By Bianca Brown, National Alumni College Initiative Chairperson

The NSBE Professional Collegiate Initiative Program is an initiative in which NSBE Professional members host programs, workshops and activities to increase the interaction between our NSBE Professionals and collegiate members. The purpose is to foster mentor relationships, plus encourage students to be active NSBE Professional members upon graduation.  We encourage all local NSBE Professional chapters to be strong and consistent with their CI programming. 

With NSBE’s 2012 Annual Convention around the corner, this is a great opportunity to engage with our collegiate chapters to help prepare them for the important Convention activities such as the Career Fair, Networking/Hospitality Suites and various workshops. For instance, some NSBE Professional chapters have hosted workshops during NSBE student chapter meetings leading up to Convention on topics such as how students should approach recruiters,  appropriate Convention attire, effective communication, networking and resume critiques. With many NSBE Professional members serving as recruiters during the Convention, what better way to equip our students with the tools they need for a successful Convention experience!

To get connected, research the NSBE college chapters in your local area. Although many NSBE Professional chapters have already made connections with their collegiate counterparts, there may be instances where there has not been any interaction. Should this be the case, I suggest an introduction email should be sent from the NSBE Professional Liaison or Chair to the President or Executive Board member of the NSBE student chapter. The NSBE Professional chapter members should then begin developing a consistent relationship with their undergraduate constituents. This can be done by frequent emails, phone calls, chapter meeting visits and overall face-time through program attendance.  We suggest that the NSBE Professional chapter makes the first contact to the students.

NSBE Professional Chapters are encouraged to be creative in their approach. It is important for NSBE Professional members to be able to engage their collegiate counterparts and spark an interest in collegiate initiative programming. Some chapters may want to make a big initiative or some may want to hold something smaller and more intimate. The key is to assess the needs of your collegiate chapters to see what would be most beneficial for all involved. Sample activities include but are not limited to: Inviting collegiate chapter members to NSBE Professional meetings and/or program, NSBE Professional members host workshops for students on varying topics: professional development, career development panel, “Dress for Success”, resume writing and critiquing, “Life after College” workshop, Life as an NSBE Professional, Work/Life balance, and many others.  Even if you are not affiliated with a chapter, we encourage our members to offer their services and advice to student chapters. 

There is a NSBE Professional College Initiative Toolkit available for your reference on the NSBE Professional website: http://www.nsbe-ae.org/. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions that you may have: Bianca Brown, 2011-2012 National College Initiative Chair. Email: ci@nsbe-ae.org

Similarly, do not miss your opportunity to win $1000 for your chapter by submitting for the National College Initiative Program of the Year Award. The application is available now on IMPAK!

Thank you so much and Happy Programming!

Take care,

Send your comments to ci@nsbe-ae.org

Visit us at www.nsbe-ae.org and follow Strauder on Twitter @NSBE_AE_Chair.

Posted: 1/12/2012 11:22:08 AM by Brenda | with 0 comments

By Strauder Patton, P.E.

To “Succeed Professionally” is not just a phrase in the NSBE Mission but it is the cornerstone for why the Alumni Extension was created and it is our goal as the National Alumni Extension Board to ensure that our members are succeeding professionally in their chosen careers. In the next couple of weeks you will be receiving a national survey from NSBE AE to respond on the value aspects of NSBE for our professional members. 
Our intent for this survey is to assess the professional benefits of being an active member, increase our membership participation, and in time develop more career access opportunities within NSBE.  And our 2012 goal is to establish a Promotions and Opportunities Value System that will assess and advertise our professional members’ experiences and development from NSBE. 
I ask you to please take a couple of minutes to complete the short three question survey which will assist our Society with defining and measuring the value of being an Alumni member.  As always I enjoy hearing from all of you so please keep emailing me your questions and feedback.
Thanks for your support and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Be safe,

Send your comments to chair@nsbe-ae.org.

Visit us at www.nsbe-ae.org and follow Strauder on Twitter @NSBE_AE_Chair.

Posted: 12/19/2011 1:28:25 AM by Brenda | with 0 comments

by Strauder Patton, P.E.

NSBE graduates about 2,500 students nationally on a yearly basis yet only a small percentage of these first year graduates are active and identify themselves with a local NSBE AE chapter.  In addition, the largest drop-off of members we fail to retain is the zero to five year segment.  There are some reasons why many of our young professional members are not continuing with their membership: after college they lose interest in NSBE, they are burnt out from their collegiate duties, there is no apparent value to be an Alumni member or they are not encouraged nor informed about joining after graduation.  As our Society’s programs grow and our initiatives become greater, we need more national and local professional members to support our mission.  These young professional members will one day be the core of Society, as a result; we need to ensure they receive attention and provide them with the essentials to improve their engagement level. 

To get a better perspective on this area, in July I went to visit the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) World Headquarters in Reston, VA and met with the ASCE Executive Director, Pat Natale, P.E.

National AE Chairperson, Strauder Patton shares an industry discussion with
ASCE Executive Director, Pat Natale, P.E.

ASCE is one the largest, premier professional engineering societies with over 150,000 members across the world.  We discussed the state of our professional societies and sharing best practices between ASCE and NSBE.  Pat expressed that ASCE also has experienced challenges in retaining their young professional members.  It is a common theme across the boards among national and local chapters for engineering societies.  According to Pat, there needs to be a specific focus and attention on your programming when engaging the young professionals.

This year NSBE is offering more content directed specifically to our Young Technical Professionals focused where these members can get the value of being a new Alumni member.  These members will get an opportunity to get mentoring, get career advice, and network with fellow young professionals at NSBE events.  Ask a Technical Professional (A2TP) is a new NSBE forum where members can submit a question to more experienced members.  In addition, at our NSBE Annual Convention in Pittsburgh in March 2012 there will be specific events and workshops focused on the young professional track.  Visit www.nsbe-ae.org for more information on NSBE Young Technical Professionals. Keeping the young professional members engaged is just as important from a local Alumni chapter standpoint.  Make sure that you get your new members connected immediately as volunteers.  Give them meaningful, interesting assignments that will encourage their participation level.  Increase your chapter’s visibility with the local NSBE student chapters.  For more information about NSBE offerings for our young professionals contact our National AE Membership Chair, Dr. Shannon Grady at membership@nsbe-ae.org

Take care,

Send your comments to chair@nsbe-ae.org


Posted: 12/5/2011 11:49:14 AM by Brenda | with 0 comments