The National Society of Black Engineers reflects on its history and present
C/O NSBE McMaster
McMaster NSBE’s current president met with its first president to discuss the history of the organization and where it is today.
The National Society of Black Engineers is an American organization with numerous pre-college, university and alumni chapters both throughout the United States and beyond. The goal of the organization, as explained by the website, is to empower more Black students to enter engineering and to find success in the field.
The website explains that NSBE was originally started in 1975 but that it has grown significantly since then, beginning at only six members and currently featuring around 31,000.
On Feb. 28, NSBE at McMaster posted an interview between Mosana Abraha, current president of NSBE McMaster and Tolu Falade, co-founder of NSBE McMaster. Falade and Abraha took turns asking one another questions about the significance of NSBE and, more generally, about the experience of being a Black student in engineering.
Falade started up NSBE McMaster in 2010. According to Falade, the 2010 NSBE National Convention was held in Toronto, which was the first time the convention had been held outside of the United States. Falade had been encouraged by friends and family to get involved with the conference, which then kickstarted her involvement with NSBE.
Falade and her co-founder attended the conference as volunteers and found the experience to be energizing and impactful. According to Falade, she left the convention feeling certain that this was a space McMaster needed. So, she and her co-founder developed the McMaster chapter in response to that.
When asked about her goals in founding NSBE McMaster, Falade emphasized the importance of community in education. Both Falade and Abraha reflected on the fact that there were very few other Black students in their respective programs and Falade pointed out that NSBE McMaster allows Black students in engineering to find and connect with one another.
Abraha noted that, when she asked Falade about her goals when founding NSBE at McMaster, she was struck by how consistent the goals of NSBE have remained over time.
“They've been pretty constant in terms of what we're doing now and that mission statement is still the same,” said Abraha.
Falade and Abraha also discussed the new NSBE McMaster Chapter Entrance Award, a scholarship that will be awarded to Black Canadian students entering McMaster engineering programs. NSBE McMaster has a fundraising goal of 62,500 dollars; reaching this goal would allow them to provide 2,500 dollars per year to several Black engineering students.
As of March 11, the award has received 30,250 dollars of donations online, from 41 different sources.
“I like to describe that scholarship as the missing puzzle piece in terms of our mission statement. We do a lot of the pre-work [or] outreach work and then we do a lot of the work for students currently in university. But I find that the scholarship is that perfect bridge,” said Abraha.
Due to NSBE’s outreach and support work, Black engineering students have greater access to communities and resources at McMaster.