STEM Leadership Forum 2014


Thursday, June 26, 2014

We recently completed a very successful NACME Board of Directors Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The meeting was sponsored by Johnson Controls, Inc. An exciting feature of the board meeting was the STEM Leadership Forum. Key stakeholders from the Milwaukee Public Schools, including students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators; area universities; the business community; nonprofits; and philanthropy convened on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 to explore the implications of the “New” American Dilemma. NACME defines the “New” American Dilemma as the underrepresentation of African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos in STEM education and careers and the requirement to reverse this situation if America is to compete successfully in STEM on the global stage.

Milwaukee is an exciting setting for innovations in STEM education. With the nation’s largest concentration of K-12 public schools engaged in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum, a local community college with strong STEM programs, several excellent engineering schools, and the presence of global engineering and technology companies like Johnson Controls, Inc., it is not surprising that the conversations at the STEM Leadership Forum were robust. We were really impressed with the large number of public school students in the audience and the quality of their questions and the energy they displayed for STEM education. The next generation of African American, American Indian, and Latino women and men engineers will come out of Milwaukee.

As a courtesy, our host company, Johnson Controls, has provided video footage of the entire STEM Leadership Forum. The Forum can be viewed by clicking on to our YouTube channel.

Have a great summer!

Equal Educational Opportunity, 60 Years After Brown V. Board of Education


Monday, June 2, 2014

On May 17, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision turned 60. On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in our nation’s public schools was unconstitutional. Six decades later, the struggle for equal educational opportunity is still not over.


A recent AP article cited conclusions from The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. An analysis of U.S. Education Department data found that “segregation has been increasing since 1990, and that black students nationally are substantially more segregated than they were in 1970.” The data also revealed that Latino students “…are more likely to attend school with other Latinos than black students are with other blacks.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ powerful article in the April 2014 issue of The Atlantic offers a disquieting view of the failure of segregated schools: “As a school’s Black population increases, the odds that any given teacher there will have significant experience, full licensure, or a master’s degree all decline. Teacher turnover at segregated schools is typically high. And Black students, overall, are less likely than any other group of students to attend schools with Advanced Placement courses and high-level classes like calculus.” This situation leads directly to the relatively low representation of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in the STEM fields. NACME’s analysis of NCES data confirms that URM students are not completing Calculus, Pre-Calculus, or other advanced mathematics courses in high school in sufficient numbers. While the majority of all high school students do not take Calculus, a solid percentage of White and especially, Asian/Pacific Islander students do complete these courses.

NACME’s comprehensive strategy of Scholarships and University Relations, Pre-Engineering Programs, Research and Program Evaluation, and Engineering Public Policy is needed now more than ever to combat this situation. Although our studies show that increases in URM participation in STEM have been achieved since our founding in 1974, the studies also reveal that progress has been marginal, neither steady enough nor substantial enough for the representation of minorities to approach parity with their presence in the U.S. population.

Against this background is the more positive and encouraging story of our NACME Scholars. Our NACME Scholars maintain an 84 percent retention rate over a five-year period. They have an average Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale. They complete internship experiences with world-class NACME Board Companies like Raytheon, Chevron, DuPont, and Dow to name a few, and accept full-time employment as engineers with many of these companies upon graduation.

To the Class of 2014, we offer our profound congratulations for your academic accomplishments and your passion for changing the world. We hope that you will find the time to mentor URM students in grades K-12, helping to ignite and sustain in them the excitement for the STEM disciplines that has propelled your success. Our children and youth desperately need role models and mentors. We also invite you to stay connected to NACME through Twitter and Facebook and through active participation in the evolving national NACME Alumni network through LinkedIn.

I leave you with the wisdom of our beloved Dr. Maya Angelou: “The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.”

Change the world!

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Gala



Monday, May 5, 2014

On the evening of April 29th, one of NACME’s long-time Partner Institutions, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, honored me with the i2e Vision Award during their annual gala. This award is given to leaders who help create opportunities for students. I was thrilled to receive this award on behalf of all the NACME staff who work diligently to ensure underrepresented minority students achieve their dreams in STEM education and careers.  

What was equally exciting for me was the opportunity to interact with so many of our NACME Scholars that attended this gala. I always take great pleasure in hearing about their exciting projects and their academic success. One student who served as a speaker during the event, Christine Pembroke (’14), a construction management major and NACME Scholar, shared the pride she felt in being named a NACME Scholar and also how much of an impact NACME’s support has had on her academic career. I felt so proud, as Christine shared this summer she will start a full-time job in engineering. Her story and those of all the scholars I get to meet, serve to validate why we at NACME do what we do.


 Pictured: Dr. McPhail, and NYU Polrtechnic School of Engineering, Dean of Engineering Katepalli Sreenivasan.


Pictured: NACME Scholar Christine Pembroke (’14), a construction management major, and Dr. McPhail.


Acceptance Speech:
Thank you. It is indeed, my great honor and privilege to accept the i2e Vision Award.
I accept this award, in part, to recognize the extraordinary journey of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc., the organization where I serve as President and CEO.  For the past four decades, NACME has worked toward increasing the representation of African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in engineering education and careers. NYU Poly has been a strong and steady partner in this effort. On a personal level, my academic and professional life has been dedicated to ensuring diversity with equity at all levels of education for people of color. Thank you for validating that struggle with the Vision Award.  Back in 2010, I proudly served as the commencement speaker for NYU Poly and was awarded an honorary engineering degree from this fantastic institution.  NYU Poly has been a NACME partner going back to 1980, and NACME has supported 235 students with more than $840,000. I look forward to our continued support of NYU Poly Scholars and our work together.

I hope many of you will join us on October 15 when NACME celebrates its 40th Anniversary at an Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria right here in New York City.  It will be an occasion to celebrate the achievements of our impressive Scholars, to thank our partners, to reflect on how far we have come and to recommit ourselves to achieving our goal of diversity with equity in engineering education and careers.  Thank you.

The 2013 NACME Symposium Research and Policy Journal

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I am delighted to announce that the 2013 NACME Symposium Research and Policy Journal has been completed and is now available for download on This impressive document contains original research and introduces strategies that represent the kind of out-of-the-box thinking required to address the obstacles and opposition facing underrepresented minority students in STEM education and careers.

NACME’s decision to hold this event in our nation’s capital was intended to connect our outstanding research efforts and programs to the need for legislative action that would ensure impact. Policymakers require enhanced links between research and policy in order to avoid the kind of policies that are unlikely to attain their objectives.

The 2013 NACME Symposium Research and Policy Journal features research-based practices that are required to move the needle on advancing more successful underrepresented minority women and men into STEM education and careers. All speakers from the 2013 NACME National Symposium contributed to this journal, connecting their work in education, policy, and the workforce to the theme for this event, which was "Take Action: Changing STEM Education for Underrepresented Minorities through Research and Policy." Below are some of the countless highlights from this compilation:

Catalyzing the Pre-Engineering Pathway for URM Students – Vince Bertram, President and CEO of Project Lead the Way, highlighted several promising practices for K-12 education, including identifying and developing role models and internship opportunities with corporations, and exposing students to hands-on, engaging STEM curricula that will help them develop a richer understanding of their subject material. Kenneth Hill, President and CEO of the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, focused on the importance of early intervention efforts between ages one through eight to properly develop the future STEM workforce. Bill Taylor, Associate Vice President of Network Engagement and Growth at the National Academy Foundation, highlighted how a high school career academy model holds the promise of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities who seek STEM careers.

The College Affordability Crisis – Justin Draeger, President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, discussed important policy considerations in light of the current academic landscape, including the need to change how students repay their loans if the current debt levels persist. Tina Farrenkopf, Director of Programs at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), examined the full circle of support model as a means of developing American Indian and Alaska Native talent in the STEM fields. Michele Lezama, Executive Director of The National GEM Consortium, discussed the disparity in student debt levels for underrepresented minorities in comparison to their peers, and the importance of providing funding to those individuals in need. Finally, Dr. Chad Womack, National Director of STEM Initiatives at UNCF, discussed the importance of empowering our youth to become innovators and entrepreneurs that will transform society.

The Mathematics Conundrum – Robert Moses, Founder and President of The Algebra Project, highlighted several interventions aimed at middle and high school students, including one that aims to enable students who enter high school performing in the lowest quartile on state or national mathematics achievement tests to graduate on time and to take credit-bearing college mathematics courses. Gregg Fleisher, Chief Academic Officer at the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), showed the success of NMSI schools in improving student achievement, including a demonstrable increase in AP qualifying scores in English, math, and science for all students, including URMs. Vanessa Hill, Professor at Springfield Technical Community College, highlighted an approach that focuses on at-risk courses as opposed to at-risk students, and examines the role of the teacher in those courses with a high rate of failure. Finally, Dr. Nathan Klingbeil, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor at Wright State University, summarized the results of a first-year engineering course that substantially mitigated the effect of incoming math preparation on student success in engineering, which has the potential to double the graduation rate of engineering students at open access institutions.

Innovations in STEM Teaching and Learning – Dr. Jacqueline Fleming, Independent Researcher, highlighted several cutting-edge methods of teaching 21st Century students, including subliminal messages in PowerPoint slides and subliminal prompts in human-computer interaction, that have the potential to enhance the current classroom environment. Dr. Etta Hollins, Professor and Endowed Chair at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, focused on the concept of cultural congruence in instruction, which can facilitate deep knowing for K-12 underrepresented students. Dr. Jamie Bracey, Director of STEM Education, Outreach & Research and Founding Director of Pennsylvania MESA at Temple University’s College of Engineering, argued that STEM learning is not culture neutral, and that students’ engagement and motivation to persist in these subjects is tied to their sense of belonging and membership in these fields. Finally, Dr. Kelly Mack, Vice President for Undergraduate STEM Education, and Executive Director of Project Kaleidoscope, of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, recommended a departure from the traditional “fix-the-student” model of reform, and instead focuses on addressing the infrastructural barriers that are preventing URM success in the STEM subjects.

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Willard Daggett, Founder and Chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education, provided a framework for teachers and organizational and instructional leaders to inform and guide learning and instruction.

Shaping Engineering Public Policy – Marilyn Berry Thompson, Chair of Federal Practice at MWW Group, highlighted NACME’s federal policy recommendations, including making certain that non-profit entities are recognized in federal legislation, making federal funds available for URM STEM scholars, and providing research opportunities for URM STEM scholars in federally designated centers of excellence and corporations. I discussed the paradigm shift that is occurring in the way we look at STEM teaching and learning with students of color, which should influence federal funding and STEM policy. Finally, Theodore Shaw, Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University, discussed the historical context and implications of the Fisher vs. University of Texas, Austin case.

Ensuring a Diverse Engineering Workforce – Dr. Anthony Carnevale, Professor and Director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, discussed the barriers that exist for pursuing a STEM career, including social structure, the structure of the labor market, and the values and interests of youth. Stephen Barkanic, Senior Vice President and Chief Program Officer for the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), highlighted several promising initiatives, including the BHEF STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project, which aims to increase undergraduate student retention in the STEM disciplines and develop a national network to scale evidence-based practices through collaborations, along with several other needed objectives. Sue Barsamian, Vice President of Global Operations, Software, at the Hewlett-Packard Company, discussed connecting philanthropic goals to corporate objectives and missions, and provided a framework for mapping philanthropic initiatives to ROI. Finally, Mary Wright, Program Director for Jobs for the Future, highlighted the importance of community colleges, and recommends that these institutions utilize real-time labor market information to improve the information, counseling, and outreach they provide to students.

The 2013 NACME Symposium Research and Policy Journal serves as a call to action for policymakers to embrace the proven, effective approaches targeted to this hidden workforce of young men and women who have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM education and careers. We are extremely proud of its content, and encourage you download a copy and share it among your network.

Interacting with NACME Scholars and Campus Visits


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My greatest joy as President and Chief Executive Officer of NACME comes when I have the opportunity to meet and interact with our Pre-Engineering students and NACME Scholars across the nation. Two recent opportunities have served to remind me in a powerful way of why I do what I do at NACME.

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, I delivered the Black History Month lecture at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I was invited by Cadet Kirsten Redmon and the campus chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Kirsten is a member of the West Point Class of 2017. She is a graduate of the Academy of Engineering (AOE) at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas, one of the 15 AOEs opened in 2009-2010 as part of Cohort II. A founding partnership of NACME, the National Academy Foundation (NAF), and Project Lead the Way (PLTW), the AOEs are small learning communities that focus high school students on careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They are designed to help meet the increasing demand for qualified professionals in the field of engineering.

I met Kirsten several years ago on a visit to the AOE at Sam Houston High School. Coming from a challenging childhood, Kirsten’s interest in engineering was ignited by her AOE experience. In fact, her academic record in high school was so stellar that she was nominated by NACME to participate in the Adventures in the Mind program, a mentoring summit for top students nationwide, where she joined with 150 other high school students in meeting 50 Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners and MacArthur Fellows, at the University of Montana at Missoula. We were so taken with Kirsten that we featured her profile in the 2011 NACME Annual Report.

Today, Kirsten is experiencing the rigorous first-year curriculum at West Point. She is especially enthusiastic about her courses in English literature and East Asian history. She eventually plans to work on developing airplane electronics as a systems engineer. Kirsten is also excited by the possibility to change lives as an engineer. She wants to solve a lot of the world’s problems by improving the nation’s ability to understand, assess, and respond to climate-related risks and opportunities, and economic disasters.

On February 6-7, 2014, I led a team from NACME on a visit to the University of Michigan, College Of Engineering. NACME and Michigan engineering have joined forces through the NACME Scholars Program to increase the representation of African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men who are successful in engineering education and careers. We met with 24 NACME Scholars who are completing bachelor’s degrees across the full spectrum of engineering disciplines. I have already been contacted by several students seeking assistance in obtaining internship experiences with NACME Board Companies this summer.

As a former college president and chancellor, and leader in the diversity movement, I have always been proud of the courage displayed by President Mary Sue Coleman in 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the University of Michigan to consider race in admissions to help create more diversity in their student body. The journey since 2003 has not been easy for the university as they have struggled in the wake of Proposal 2 and the ban on affirmative action in the state of Michigan. Challenges remain to increase minority enrollment and to make the campus more inclusive. However, we left the University of Michigan with the very clear impression that the institution will continue to be a national leader in actualizing the commitment to diversity.



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