Membership

Engineering Associations Team Up To Support Black Engineers

By / Mar 2, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

As part of a recently renewed agreement, the National Society of Black Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers are working to retain and support African-American engineers through educational and professional development programs, mentoring opportunities, and discounts on membership.

The National Society of Black Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers recently announced a renewed strategic partnership, which aims to improve the retention of black engineers and inspire the next generation to enter the field.

NSBE and ASCE signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining the actions that the organizations will take to increase diversity in engineering, which include providing resources for mentoring and professional development and promoting the representation of African-Americans in the discipline.

Under the agreement, the two associations will offer reciprocal memberships, providing complimentary ASCE membership to eligible NSBE collegiate members. ASCE professional members will also receive free NSBE professional membership for their first year and a $25 discount for every subsequent year of reciprocal membership, ASCE told Associations Now.

The societies will collaborate to produce joint continuing education and professional development sessions. Both organizations will continue to take part in the “Conversations with Civil Engineers” series, a career mentoring program in which practicing engineers hold small roundtable discussions for aspiring engineers during NSBE annual conventions. These sessions prove to be invaluable for students, who often form relationships with their mentors and then go on to become mentors themselves.

Through the partnership, NSBE and ASCE also plan to increase awareness of the profession through public-outreach projects such as Dream Big, an IMAX film about engineering scheduled to be released in 2016, and the film’s related educational initiative.

“As leading engineering professional societies, ASCE and NSBE are uniquely and strategically positioned to address the U.S. engineering workforce and innovation challenges our nation faces,” ASCE President Robert D. Stevens said in a news release.

The organizations say such initiatives are critical for increasing the representation and retention of African-Americans in engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, black engineers show that in 2013, black engineers made up just 5.5 percent of the country’s engineering workforce and 5.4 percent of the civil engineering workforce.

Among recent graduates, the numbers are even lower: Black students represented just 3.4 percent of graduates who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and 3.3 percent who received a master’s degree in the field.

“NSBE recognizes that it cannot fulfill its mission without strategic partnerships with the U.S. engineering community,” NSBE National Chairwoman Sossena Wood said in a press release. “This MOU with our first strategic partner, the American Society of Civil Engineers, is another major step toward supporting our members, building our organizations, growing the number of underrepresented engineers, and accomplishing much for the U.S. engineering profession.”

Julia Haskins

Julia Haskins is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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