Matthew Nelson
Matthew Nelson
National Chair

Matthew Nelson is national chair of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the top-ranking officer of the more than 31,000-member, student-governed organization. NSBE, founded in 1975 and based in Alexandria, Va., has as its mission “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” Nelson is leading the Society toward its primary goal of graduating 10,000 African-American engineers annually, with bachelor’s degrees, by the year 2025.
Nelson is a PhD  student in design science at the University of Michigan (U-M), where he also earned a B.S.E. in Industrial and Operations Engineering with a minor in multidisciplinary design, in 2015. As an undergraduate at U-M, he served in a number of capacities on campus, including as a student ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and as a student administrator for the Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach (CEDO). He was the first African-American to participate in the U-M Multidisciplinary Design Project program, serving as a mentor to the project team for Detroit Manufacturing Systems, a Tier 1 automotive supplier that procured more than $700 million in new business in less than three years. Nelson received his Six Sigma Green Belt in manufacturing from this program in 2013.
Nelson’s collegiate journey began at Michigan in 2002, when he struggled to maintain a below-average GPA. After falling out of the engineering pipeline, he spent several years working to return to higher education. He enrolled in Lansing Community College in 2011, where he made the president’s list with a 3.91 GPA and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. At that point, Nelson decided to return to Michigan to finish his academic journey and share his testimony. After his return to U-M, Nelson earned university honors, made the dean’s list, earned the College of Engineering Distinguished Leadership Award and was awarded the first-ever CEDO Legacy Award for his work in engineering diversity.
Nelson has held a number of leadership roles within NSBE, including as Region IV finance chair, national finance chair and national assistant treasurer – special projects. During his tenure with the Society, he has raised more than $250,000 in corporate and academic support and has led a group of individuals who have collectively raised $3.3 million. Nelson chose NSBE leadership to contribute his time and talents to a worthy cause.
Nelson continues to advocate for increased resources for nontraditional and minority students, as well as inspire those considering returning to college. Nelson engages in public speaking, encouraging people of all ages to pursue science, technology, engineering and math professions. He is developing a web platform,, which will draw lessons from the mass appeal of athletics and entertainment by displaying the lifestyles of real engineers, researchers and scientists.
Nelson’s favorite quote: “I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” — Malcolm X