From the National Chair

By Calvin Phelps, NSBE National Chair


We cannot afford to rest on last year’s laurels or allow ourselves to think that we have arrived.”

By now, some things should be accepted as fact. Through its successes since 1975, the National Society of Black Engineers has proven how it develops leaders and inspires our communities, how it has the power to help shape and change the world. In fact, we have achieved much in this past year alone, from helping young St. Lucian students come to the United States to study to sitting down and making recommendations on education policy to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. We focused our efforts on those items critical to our Mission, and we saw what can be achieved when we fix our minds on attaining a singular goal.

Last year was about strengthening the foundation, creating a culture of excellence and academic focus within our organization. That work included widespread implementation and adoption of the NSBE Retention Program, the expansion of our Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) program to the West Coast, and the dedication of our members to excellence in their classes and their outreach. This year is about building on that foundation, about taking it to the next level.

We cannot afford to rest on last year’s laurels or allow ourselves to think that we have arrived. We made headlines across the Caribbean with our efforts in St. Lucia last year, but what will we do to ensure such outreach continues? We sat across the table from those who advise the president of the United States on STEM education, but what will we do to ensure action follows? We have expanded our Retention Program to 44 schools and universities, but what will we do to ensure that we get a program in every chapter? SEEK has expanded to Region VI, but what can we do to get a program in all six regions?

Family, we have moved to a place where we meet with United States representatives, where the White House places us on advisory committees and sends individuals to our Annual Convention. We are becoming the organization people look to when they have a question about blacks in engineering. President Bill Clinton has issued a challenge for us to put 100,000 young black kids into the engineering pipeline over the next five years: a former president has called on us to work to address the challenges that our communities face in education.

Last year, we proved what we could achieve when we made our focus the Mission. This year, we will reengage that focus to achieve new heights. This year, we will take it to the next level.