A Stanford PhD's plan to graduate 10,000 black engineers by 2025

A Stanford PhD’s plan to graduate 10,000 black engineers by 2025

Favor Nerrise, National President, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

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Favor Nerrise wanted to become a brain surgeon when he was 10, but was conflicted. “Brain surgery sounds interesting. But how can we improve surgical tools?” he remembers thinking.

With her mother’s help, Nerrise searched online for robotics tutorials, training videos, and local competitions. Initially, she founded VEX Robotics and First LEGO League, two organizations that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Nerrise also stumbled upon the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a non-profit organization with a mission to increase the number of black engineers.

Now 22, Nerrise has a PhD in electrical engineering. student at Stanford University, currently researching tools, models and methodologies that can help medical professionals better understand how the brain works. She has also moved from the role of NSBE local chapter chair to her current role as national chair as she leads her efforts to increase diversity in the field of engineering.

Only 5% of developers, engineers and programmers are black, according to data from / dev / color, a non-profit organization that helps companies find black tech talent. Nerrise says she is the only black woman in her Ph.D. in electrical engineering of 160 people. cohort. But she and NSBE hope to increase these numbers through Game Change 2025, a strategic plan Nerrise implemented to see 10,000 black engineers graduate each year by 2025.

Currently, about 6,000 black engineers graduate each year, according to Nerrise.

NSBE’s mission is to help more black engineers excel academically, succeed professionally and make a positive impact on the community, among other things, by offering seminars for young people, engineering camps, relief funds and scholarships.

Nerrise wants the nonprofit to become a household name.

“We are completely redefining what it means to be an NSBE member and what the NSBE identity looks like,” he said.

Favor Nerrise (L) stands with the winners of the University of Maryland NSBE Chapter Cybersecurity Challenge

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NSBE supports three core engineering audiences, starting with the expansion of STEM awareness to a pre-university demographic. It also offers technical and leadership training to undergraduate students to prepare them for the professional world and to engineering professionals to advance their careers.

But to reach the goal of 10,000 black engineering graduates, NSBE had to make significant changes to its approach and reach younger students. Third grade children are now exposed to NBSE, which Nerrise said was a necessity. “And we may also need to go all the way, like kindergarten,” he says, “because we found that if kids weren’t exposed early, black and brown students typically were at a disadvantage in catching up in math and science. . “

Nerrise also wants to see change at the corporate leadership level. “I think those companies have a lot more responsibility in ensuring representation, not just in hiring but also in developing those employees,” she said. Although recruiting practices have improved, there is still a lack of representation in management, she said.

NSBE’s Board of Corporate Affiliates includes Goldman Sachs, Google and Merck.

NSBE has also partnered with INROADS, a nonprofit organization that creates pathways for ethnically diverse high school and college students, to publish a DEI company index based on the experiences of NSBE members who have interned at major companies. Nerrise hopes this report will hold accountable companies that claim to achieve their DEI goals.

Favor Nerrise (bottom center) stands with members of the Executive Committee of the National Socitey of Black Engineers and the Conference Planning Committee

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