The Michigan Engineer News Center

Conference aims to boost African-American engineering graduate numbers

In an effort to reduce the shortage of African-American engineering talent in the U.S., the University of Michigan is hosting the National Society of Black Engineers' National Leadership Conference this week.| Medium Read

In an effort to reduce the shortage of African-American engineering talent in the U.S., the University of Michigan is hosting the National Society of Black Engineers’ National Leadership Conference this week.

Approximately 180 black engineering students from across the country will attend June 2-7.

Students will share ideas and receive training in such areas as budgeting, expense management, public relations and funds solicitation and also learn interpersonal skills such as effective communication, teamwork and conflict resolution. The theme of this year’s conference is “Synergistic Leadership: Strengthening Our Foundation Through Collaboration.”

NSBE has set an ambitious goal to increase the number of African Americans earning engineering bachelor’s degrees to 10,000 per year by 2025, said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid. Only 3,620 black candidates received engineering baccalaureates in the U.S. during the 2012–13 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“The percentage of blacks among engineering degree recipients in the U.S. has been declining for more than a decade,” Reid said. “Reaching our goal of 10,000 graduates per year will require the students who govern NSBE to go from good to great. Through programs such as our yearlong National Leadership Institute and its signature event, the National Leadership Conference, we will develop leaders who can inspire and educate our membership and motivate them to end the underrepresentation of African Americans in our field.”

The conference represents a continuation of a partnership between NSBE and the U-M College of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach.

“Race and equity in education continue to be a primary national focus,” said David C. Munson, Jr., Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at U-M. “This is especially true at the University of Michigan, where our new President, Mark Schlissel, is making diversity and inclusion a cornerstone of his administration. We believe that all students deserve an equal opportunity and that diversity is critical to the educational process. And, we cannot leave talent on the sidelines. In engineering, diversity is important for future economic competitiveness.”

He continued, “Our engineering campus is a welcoming location for the Conference, and we look forward to hosting these impressive students. We are excited to partner with NSBE in this effort.”

Founded in 1975, NSBE is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. With more than 31,000 members and more than 300 chapters in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. NSBE’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

“We thank President Schlissel, Dean Munson and the University of Michigan community for their support of our cause,” Reid said.

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