Think engineers are made in college? Think again.
Calvin Phelps, national chair of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) says engineers are built in the third or fourth grade.
Phelps made his point at the recent NSBE gathering in Pittsburgh, which drew more than 8,500 engineers, students and teachers to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.The organization’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”
One way NSBE does this is by dedicating countless hours of mentorship to students with interest in the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and math. As Phelps points out in the video interview below, NSBE hosts the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) to expose youth in grades 3-5 to engineering and technology.
Serving a broader audience is the Pre-Collegiate Institute, which addresses K-12 students who demonstrate talent in engineering. Elisha Clayton and Cavon Cormack discuss that in a second video, also below.
At the event, I met Tre’ Bohannon, an eighth-grader whose team, part of Project Still I Rise, from Dallas, Texas, won first place in a robotics and engineering design competition. Many students first become interested in engineering through robot competitions, such as the recent BotsIQ competition in Westmoreland County.
With the growth of STEM companies and a surplus of jobs in these fields, our region’s students have a lot to be excited about as they prepare to enter the workforce. And NSBE – which is primarily led by college students and recent graduates – is well-positioned to help bridge the gap between younger students and the workforce.
Listen to Phelps talk about the SEEK Camps:
Hear Clayton and Cormack discuss the Pre-Collegiate Initiative: