National Society of Black Engineers
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National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), founded in 1975 at Purdue University, is one of the largest student-run organizations in the US, centered on improving the recruitment and retention of African-American engineering students.
In 1971, Edward Barnette and Fred Cooper approached the dean of engineering at Purdue University with the concept of starting the Black Society of Engineers (BSE). They wanted to establish a student organization to help improve the recruitment and retention of black engineering students. In the late 1960s, 80 percent of the black freshmen entering the engineering program dropped out. The dean agreed to the idea and assigned the only black faculty member on staff, Arthur J. Bond, as an adviser.
Barnette served as the first president of the BSE. The fledgling group gained momentum in 1974, with the direction and encouragement of Bond and the active participation of a group of young men who become the founders of NSBE. Now known as the "Chicago Six", these men were Anthony Harris, Brian Harris, Stanley L. Kirtley, John W. Logan, Jr., Edward A. Coleman, and George A. Smith.
Encouraged by their on-campus success, Anthony Harris, president of the Purdue chapter, wrote a letter to the presidents and deans of every accredited engineering program in the country. They explained the Society of Black Engineers (SBE) concept and asked them to identify black student leaders, organizations and faculty members who might support their efforts on a national basis. Approximately 80 schools responded. Many had similar black student organizations with similar objectives. A date was set for the first national meeting and 48 students representing 32 schools attended the event, held April 10–12, 1975. Harris also changed the organizations' nomenclature from the BSE to the Society of Black Engineers (SBE).
It was at that meeting through majority vote that SBE became the National Society of Black Engineers. The familiar NSBE symbol "N" with lightning bolts was chosen and it remains a distinctively recognizable symbol representing the premier technical organization for African American engineering students and professionals. NSBE was eventually incorporated in Texas in 1976 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. John Cason, also of Purdue, served as the first elected president of NSBE. As the organization grew, Virginia Booth became the first female National Chairperson and the first to serve two terms 1978-1980.
NSBE's mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.
Membership and management
NSBE has since grown from six to over 33,000 members and the annual meeting has blossomed into the Annual Convention, hosting over 10,000 attendees. NSBE has over 50 NSBE Jr. pre-college, 268 student and 50 alumni-technical professional chapters. NSBE has a presence in over 30 countries around the world—showing its globally aligned mission. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, NSBE offers academic excellence programs, scholarships, leadership training, professional development and access to career opportunities for thousands of members annually. With over 2000 elected leadership positions, 12 regional conferences and an annual convention, NSBE provides opportunities for success that remain unmatched by any other organization.