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Since its first iteration in 1975, the annual, organization-wide gathering of the National Society of Black Engineers has been a powerful agent for change toward racial equity in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Countless Black professionals in engineering and other technical fields have credited their attendance at NSBE’s Annual Convention with giving them the motivation, academic support and professional development tools they needed to earn their academic degrees and move on to successful STEM careers.
This year, change is again the story, as NSBE presents its 46th Annual Convention, its first-ever Virtual Annual Convention, from Wednesday, Aug. 19 through Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. More than 8,500 STEM students; technical professionals; and corporate, government and community leaders are expected to participate in the convention, which is designed with robust interactive features enabled by state-of-the-art technology to create a powerful, educational, career-enhancing, entertaining experience for attendees. Originally scheduled to be an in-person event in San Antonio, Texas, in March, NSBE’s 46th Annual Convention (#NSBE46) has been reimagined as an online event because of health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of the convention is “#NSBE46: Engineering the Revolution.”
Founded 45 years ago by six engineering undergraduates and their faculty advisor at Purdue University, NSBE, with nearly 25,000 members, remains a college student-led organization dedicated to ending the underrepresentation of Black professionals in engineering. The Society’s main 10-year strategic goal is to partner with U.S. colleges and universities to increase the number of new Black engineers they produce to 10,000 annually, by 2025.
“NSBE’s student leadership has always embraced innovation and change to continue making a positive impact on STEM and the Black community,” said NSBE National Chair Jocelyn Jackson. “Facing the unprecedented challenge of a global pandemic, NSBE’s National Executive Board first made the bold decision to postpone the convention, in early March, then to transform it using the technology that many of us are mastering in our college and universities. We look forward to celebrating our annual ‘family reunion’ online this year, at this critical time in history, to uplift our membership and advance NSBE’s mission,” added Jackson, who is a doctoral student in engineering education research at the University of Michigan.
#NSBE46 will feature high-profile speakers, panel discussions, technical and career development workshops, networking sessions, training sessions for technical and scientific competitions, and the premier career fair geared toward African Americans in STEM. The culminating event, the 23rd Annual NSBE Golden Torch Awards ceremony, will honor outstanding achievers in STEM and the community on Saturday, Aug. 22. Comedian, television host, actress, author and former electrical engineer Loni Love will host the awards ceremony.
Comedian/actress/producer Amanda Seales will join the convention on Friday, Aug. 21, as host of a Black history- and culture-themed show titled “Smart Funny & Black.”
The NSBE Annual Convention includes events and activities geared toward undergraduates in STEM fields, as well as three “mini-conferences” designed for the Society’s other membership demographics: the Pre-College Initiative (PCI) Conference, for elementary school, middle school and high school students; the Graduate School Conference (GSC) for current and prospective graduate students; and the Technical Professionals Conference (TPC) for STEM practitioners. The TPC is coordinated by NSBE Professionals, the 4,400-member organization for technical professional members of NSBE.
“We thank our many partners for investing in NSBE and helping make #NSBE46 possible,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “Over the past several months, the United States and the world have spoken about social justice and systemic racism, and we have named the path forward as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The support NSBE has received for our virtual event, from major employers, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations and others, is part of a broader strategy to turn their pledges into practice, and operationalizes our collective journey to create more equitable workplaces and communities.”