<Standing Hed> Blogs
 

by Nicole Yates


The path to 2025 just got shorter, as 363 more African Americans graduated with engineering bachelor’s degrees in 2015 than in 2014. According to the American Society for Engineering Education, African Americans earned 4 percent of all engineering baccalaureates in 2015, compared with 3.5 percent in 20141.
 
Since announcing the 2025 goal via the #Be1of10K campaign, NSBE has made a national impact evidenced by the increase in the number of new Black Engineers. More than 100 articles in digital publications such as Black Enterprise, USA Today and the Boston Herald  have increased awareness of the need for NSBE’s work. In addition, NSBE chapters have put forth more deliberate effort to retain and graduate more members and thus fulfill the mission of the Society. We have seen studies like this one documenting the success of NSBE chapters in graduating more Black Engineers.
 
Why have we focused on 10K? There has been an ongoing debate about this country’s ability to fill science and engineering jobs with qualified candidates. One obvious solution is to increase the talent pool by graduating more scientists and engineers2. At 13.3 percent of the total population3 and only 4.0 percent of engineering degree holders, African Americans are vastly underrepresented in this field, one that has high earning potential and makes a significant economic impact.
 
Although the recent uptick in graduation numbers is exciting news, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent with our progress. An expected 133,000 students will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in engineering in 2025. For NSBE to reach the 10K goal, the number of African Americans holding those degrees must increase by nearly 90 percent. Furthermore, the percentage of African-American female Bachelor of Science graduates in engineering actually declined slightly from 25 to 24 percent, between 2014 and 2015. More efforts need to focus specifically on retaining black women in engineering, as Karl W. Reid, Ed.D., executive director of NSBE, points out in his recent blog.
 
You may be wondering what role you play in achieving the 2025 goal. Our members have always been crucial to our success, but now, more than ever, your commitment is a catalyst. Here are a few suggestions:
  • If you’re a pre-college student, expand on your interest in math and science. Make sure you’re taking and passing key courses such as algebra and calculus. Show your commitment to becoming an engineer by taking the #Be1of10K pledge at Graduate10K.NSBE.org.
  • If you’re a college student, stay the course. Form study groups, visit your professors during office hours, and attend your NSBE chapter meetings. Tutor younger students, and encourage them to stick with engineering as well.
  • If you’re a professional, reach back. Mentor younger students, show them what their future could look like, and be that positive influence in their lives. Help young professionals develop in their careers.
  • If you’re a parent, look for STEM opportunities for your children outside of school. Ensure that they’re on track with their academics, and nourish their interest in engineering via DIY projects, trips to local museums or library visits.
Other stakeholders, such as corporate partners, donors, collaborators and university faculty, also have an important role to play in reaching the 10K goal. Their commitment, whether financial or temporal, ensures that programs such as SEEK, the NSBE Retention Program, and Academic Excellence continue to enhance the success of our members. With efforts such as the 50K Coalition, partners have also helped NSBE amplify the national conversation on underrepresented students in engineering. Partnerships between NSBE and universities, other disciplined societies, and policymakers will help ensure that the goal of broadening participation in engineering is addressed holistically.
 
Already, NSBE has succeeded in moving the needle on graduation rates of black students in this country. By continuing our work and relentlessly focusing on our goal, we will achieve greatness.
 
Sources:
1.     Yoder, B.L. (2016). Engineering by the numbers. Washington: American Society for Engineering Education. Retrieved from https://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/college-profiles/15EngineeringbytheNumbersPart1.pdf.


2.     Sargent, J.F. Jr. (2014). Adequacy of the U.S. science and engineering workforce. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from http://insight.ieeeusa.org/insight/content/policy/67448.


3.     United States Census Bureau. Population estimates, July 1, 2015 (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/00.
 
 
 
Why have we focused on 10K? There has been an ongoing debate about this country’s ability to fill science and engineering jobs with qualified candidates. One obvious solution is to increase the talent pool by graduating more scientists and engineers2. At 13.3 percent of the total population3 and only 4.0 percent of engineering degree holders, African Americans are vastly underrepresented in this field, one that has high earning potential and makes a significant economic impact.