NACME Blog | NACME - NACME Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:55:07 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb A Look Back at 2014




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The end of yet another year is quickly approaching, and that has inspired me to reflect on some of the outstanding accomplishments of 2014 in the life and times of NACME.

This year, NACME published the long awaited Engineer Something Amazing! suite of pre-engineering materials aimed at middle and high school students, teachers, parents and guidance counselors. The purpose of these materials is to generate awareness and excitement about the possibilities of an engineering career. These materials were created with generous support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation and the AT&T Foundation; and with the help of AT&T employees, as well as teachers and a cross section of students from the White Plains, N.Y., area. In addition to having these materials available as printed documents, we decided to make them a lot more accessible through our website, as downloadable documents. Since their completion, more than 400 people have downloaded these items and several thousand whole sets of these materials have been delivered to middle and high schools across the United States.

In the spring, NACME also published one of its most ambitious pieces to date, the 2013 NACME Symposium Research and Policy Journal. For this document, NACME transcribed statements and testimonies delivered by our special guests from our 2013 NACME National Symposium and asked for attendees to submit white papers on the challenges facing underrepresented minorities (URMs) in STEM education and careers. This report challenges existing paradigms and reframes the research-policy nexus for change and action in catalyzing the engineering pathway for our students.

In July, NACME moved into its new headquarters. Our new offices are still in the heart of White Plains, N.Y., the wonderful city that NACME has called home for well over a decade.

NACME as we know it began with the urging of minority leaders, business executives, the academic community, and leading corporations decided to pool their resources to achieve parity in the representation of minorities in engineering. By 1974, four loosely coupled organizations had been created to build the knowledge base and expertise to lead a long-term national effort:

  • NACME, the National Advisory Council for Minorities in Engineering, comprised of top-level industry executives who agreed to provide leadership and funding for the new initiative;
  • CME, the Committee on Minorities in Engineering of the National Academy of Engineering, to conduct research on the issues impacting minority participation;
  • ME3, the Minority Engineering Education Effort, to identify and recruit potential engineering students; and
  • NFMES, the National Fund for Minority Engineering Students, to provide much-needed financial aid.

In 1980, the loose coupling became a formal merger of NFMES and ME3 with legal incorporation under NACME. To signify the new organization’s expanded role, Advisory was changed to Action in its acronym. The original Advisory Council became NACME’s board and the new corporation assumed many functions of the CME. The mandate of NACME now the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. was to conduct ongoing research, to identify the impediments limiting access to careers in engineering and to implement programs to achieve the technical workforce truly reflective of the American population.

In 1974, roughly 2 percent of the U.S. engineering workforce was composed of African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos. Today that metric stands at 10 percent. Clearly, progress has been made. However, that progress has been marginal at best; neither steady enough nor substantial enough for the representation of minorities to approach parity with their presence in the U.S. population.

NACME is, today, the largest private provider of scholarships for underrepresented minority students in engineering. We are extremely proud to have helped more than 24,000 young women and men with more than $142 million in scholarships and support during our first 40 years.

We met our fundraising goal of $1.2 million for scholarships at the 40th NACME Anniversary Awards Dinner & Celebration on October 15. I was completely overwhelmed by the announcement at the Awards Dinner that Hewlett-Packard Company was providing a seed grant of $50,000 to fund an investigative study to understand the competitive landscape and effectively meet the computing demands for underrepresented minorities in computer science careers. I am now equally delighted to announce that Bechtel Corporation has met the HP challenge with a $10,000 contribution.

The year 2014 also marked the end of the Connectivity 2015 strategic plan. The NACME Board of Directors is currently considering the next iteration of NACME’s vision, mission, and strategy—Connectivity 2020. With the support of our partners in this journey, NACME intends to raise the bar on execution-with-excellence with respect to our Core Key Results Areas (Scholarships and University Relations; Pre-Engineering Programs, including the Community College Pathway; and Research and Program Evaluation), Sustaining Key Results Area (Revenue Generation), and Supporting Key Results Areas (Strategic Communications, Organizational Sustainability, and Engineering Public Policy).

This has been a phenomenal year for NACME and I am eagerly waiting to see what 2015 will bring. I now wish you all Happy Holidays and a blessed New Year!

]]> (Brenda ) Blog Thu, 04 Dec 2014 00:29:45 +0000
The NACME 40th Anniversary Awards Dinner and Celebration

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


We are now several weeks past NACME’s 40th Anniversary Awards Dinner and Celebration, and I am still delighted by the support we received and thrilled by the phenomenal surprise that was announced during the awards portion of the evening.

As always, NACME takes time during its anniversary celebrations to honor those outstanding individuals and corporations that have been instrumental in helping NACME continue to pursue its mission and vision. The honorees this year were: Dr. John Brooks Slaughter, former President and CEO of NACME and Professor of Education and Engineering at the University of Southern California, who received the Reginald H. Jones Distinguished Service Award; Sandra Begay-Campbell, Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, who received the Alumni Circle Award; the Hewlett-Packard Company, which received the Corporate Citizenship Award; and Dr. Diana Natalicio, President of the University of Texas at El Paso, who received the Diversity Vision Award. Dr. Natalicio also served on the NACME Board of Directors from 1993 to 2012; and as chairman of the NACME Governance Committee from 2008 to 2012.

Through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and educational institutions, NACME raised more than $1 million leading into the anniversary celebration. These funds will be used to support NACME’s scholarships and programs. The real surprise during event, however, was announced at the end of HP’s acceptance speech, when Sue Barsamian, Senior Vice President at HP, and Vice Chairman of NACME Board of Directors; and John Hinshaw, Executive Vice President at HP, surprised the room of over 500 attendees by announcing that NACME would be receiving an additional gift of $50,000 that will be used to help attract more underrepresented minority students to computer science. HP then challenged NACME’s other supporters in attendance to match this generous gift. I was equally delighted when fellow NACME Board Company, PenFed, answered the call with a $10,000 matching gift.

NACME’s milestone celebration also served as a very special venue for me to announce the first recipient of The Pressley and Mauise Vinson McPhail/NACME Scholarship in Biomedical Engineering. Earlier this year, my wife, daughter, and I established scholarship as a tribute to my parents who were taken from us by cancer and cardiovascular disease. The first recipient, Khadidiatou (Khady) Guiro, attended our celebration and was presented with the scholarship check for $5,000. Ms. Guiro is a biomedical engineering doctoral candidate at Rutgers University School of Medicine and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, as well as an Alfred P. Sloan Minority Ph.D. Fellow. Ms. Guiro’s broad research goal is to develop successful therapeutic strategies for a range of diseases by closing the gap between engineering and molecular biology. She is currently studying breast cancer dormancy, a primary factor in disease recurrence, by using tissue engineering to closely observe the mechanisms of cell dormancy following cancer treatments. I am hopeful that Ms. Guiro’s contributions to cancer research will completely alter the way this horrible disease is treated.

I always come away from our anniversary celebrations feeling inspired, but this year as I walked away feeling elated. I am thankful for all those who contributed and for those who attended the 40th anniversary celebration, particularly the NACME Scholars and Alumni; we are all immensely proud of you and your accomplishments. All of NACME’s staff and supporters know that you will carry us well beyond the next 40 years


]]> (Brenda ) Blog Wed, 05 Nov 2014 22:25:53 +0000
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 44th Annual Legislative Conference

Monday, September 29, 2014



Two years ago, I was pleased to serve on a panel at the 2012 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.  The Congressional Black Caucus’ conference is the premier gathering of African Americans, cultivating engaging policy discussions on issues that impact black communities around the world. This four-day conference features more than 70 policy sessions, a national town hall, a job and contract procurement fair, and other events. NACME became involved in an effort to draw more attention on Capitol Hill to the need to increase the number of African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians in STEM.

On Thursday, September 25, it was my honor to serve on a panel at the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference, hosted by Congressman Marc Veasey from Texas District 33 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The title of the panel was: Bridging the Gap: Collaboration & Engagement for Career Success. The panel focused on what companies and organizations are doing to prepare students for college and careers, while simultaneously closing the skills gap in communities across the nation. 

The panel featured Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Keynote Speaker; Sharon Epperson, CNBC Correspondent & Today Show Contributor, Moderator; Sean McGarvey, President, Building Trades, AFL-CIO; Greg Delagi, Senior Vice President, Texas Instruments; Frank Stewart, Board Member & Past President, American Association of Blacks in Energy; Chauncey Lennon, Executive Director, New Skills at Work Initiative, JP Morgan Chasse; Christine Scullion, Director, National Association of Manufacturers; Becky Pringle, Vice President, National Education Association; and myself.


Photo Credit: Andrew Lee of PLWatcher. (Pictured L-R) Sharon Epperson, CNBC; Dr. McPhail; Christine Scullion, National Association of Manufacturers; Becky Pringle, National Education Association; Chauncy Lennon,JPMorgan Chase; Rep. Marc Veasey.


Below is my speech from Thursday, September 25, 2014:


Good Afternoon.

May I begin by thanking The Honorable Marc Veasey and his staff for the opportunity to serve as a panelist for this policy session.

Since its inception in 1974, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) has remained true to its mission: To ensure American resilience in a flat world by leading and supporting the national effort to expand U.S. capability through increasing the number of successful African American, American Indian, and Latino women and men in STEM education and careers.

The NACME Strategy embraces the continuum from Middle School to Workforce Entry. The strategy is supported by four Key Results Areas (KRAs): Scholarships and University Relations, Pre-Engineering Programs, Research and Program Evaluation, and Engineering Public Policy. Our Pre-Engineering KRA encompasses activities at the Middle School, High School, and Community College. These activities are specifically focused on building engineering awareness and the academic skillsets required for success in engineering study.

My time this afternoon does not permit a full review of the NACME Strategy. I would like to quickly provide an overview of NACME’s newest initiative in Pre-Engineering Programs—the regionally-based  NACME STEM Integration Model or NSIM. We successfully launched a second NSIM in the Texas region in 2013, with generous support from the ExxonMobil Foundation. The natural cluster of NACME Partner Universities, NACME Board Companies, and Academies of Engineering (AOEs)—the National Academy Foundation network of career-themed academies—made Texas the ideal location to follow the 2012 launch in the New York and New Jersey pilot regions. NACME has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 12 AOEs in Dallas, Waco, Houston, San Antonio, and Orange; and five partner universities in the State. Each partner plays a unique role in facilitating the movement of AOE graduating seniors to engineering school.

The NACME Partner Universities offer summer programs for the AOE high school students that raise their awareness of engineering as an attainable career choice, as well as introduce them to the rigors of an undergraduate engineering education. Our university partners also stage college fairs, and consider extending NACME’s one-time $2,500 scholarship award beyond the student’s first year of engineering study, provided the eligibility requirements are met. NACME Board Companies commit top executive talent for service on AOE External Advisory Boards. The Hewlett-Packard Company has become the model corporation in this area with nearly 30 executives sharing their time and resources with participating high schools. AT&T, another venerable NACME Board Company, has implemented shadowing experiences and mentoring programs at the John E. Dwyer Technology Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Scholarship support for AOE graduates moving on to engineering school, and professional development funds for STEM teachers at the AOEs have been critical components of the NSIM strategy. The AT&T Foundation supports STEM Innovation Grants for teachers and scholarships for graduating seniors at 10 AOEs in Texas, Wisconsin, California, Florida, New York, Georgia, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Now in its second year of implementation in the New York and New Jersey regional NSIMs, the New York Community Trust awards scholarships to New York City-based AOE graduates, and to community college transfer students in engineering and continuing NACME Scholars enrolled at New York City-based NACME Partner Universities (New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering and The City College of New York). And on the West Coast, the Chevron Corporation has adopted a district-wide approach to supporting the implementation of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum at six high schools in northern California. Chevron provides scholarships, STEM Innovation Grants for teachers, and the distribution of NACME’s portfolio of Engineering Awareness Materials. The Northrop Grumman Foundation provided funding for this portfolio, including Engineer Something Amazing posters and brochures for Grades 6-12; the NACME Guaranteed A+ Plus Quick Start Guide; and the Engineering Your Future Magazine and The NACME Guide to Engineering Colleges for Grades 11-12.

Finally, the regional NACME STEM Integration Model represents the power of partnership in addressing the awareness gap and skills gap in engineering education for underrepresented minority students. The NSIM engages K-12 education; higher education, including the community college; and business and industry.

I invite you to learn more about the NACME Strategy by visiting our website at: and taking one of the green NACME folders on the rear table.

Thank you.


]]> (Brenda ) Blog Tue, 30 Sep 2014 02:57:58 +0000
Welcome Back NACME Scholars

Wednesday, September 3, 2014



Fall was always my favorite time of year as a professor and college president. Welcoming new and continuing students to the campus community reminded all of the value of college and the promise that our students held for changing the world. It is with this spirit that I am proud to welcome our NACME Scholars back to the 51 university campuses that produce almost a third of the nation’s talented underrepresented minority engineering graduates each academic year.

NACME provides scholarship support to nearly 1,200 young women and men each year. Our NACME Scholars continue to demonstrate outstanding academic success in engineering study, including a six-year graduation rate of 79 percent, and a 3.3/4.0 GPA. Our NACME Alumni are making major contributions to innovation, invention and entrepreneurship in science and technology. They are also good citizens, actively engaged in building awareness about engineering careers with the next generation of NACME Scholars.

This month’s NACME Alumni Spotlight features a profile on Ahmad Ibn Qaadir Shaheed, who not only became a successful mechanical engineer in the energy industry, but also helps inspire young minds to follow their dreams of a STEM career by serving as a board member of CSTEM, a non-profit organization providing services to teachers and students in the areas of communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (C-STEM).

Engineers like Ahmad and our other NACME Alumni who have received scholarship support define why we exist as an organization. For four decades, we have led the national effort to increase the representation of talented African American, American Indian, and Latino women and men in STEM education and careers. We take great pride in showcasing their stories on our website, our newsletter, our publications, and in my public appearances and presentations.

None of this, however, would be possible without the support and dedication of NACME’s corporate and foundation supporters and individual donors. We are currently gearing up for our premiere scholarship fundraising event, the 40thNACME Anniversary Awards Dinner and Celebration, which will be held at the Waldorf Astoria, in New York City, on October 15, 2014. More than 500 corporate leaders, educators, NACME Scholars and Alumni will join us as we celebrate individuals and organizations that are truly making a difference. Additional information, including how you can help, can be found at I hope to see you there.


]]> (Brenda ) Blog Thu, 04 Sep 2014 01:57:17 +0000
A Victory for Affirmative Admissions-Fisher v. UT at Austin

Monday, August 4, 2014


I emphasize in all of my writing and speeches that the solution to America’s competitiveness problem is to activate the hidden workforce of young men and women who have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM careers—African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos. Access to quality K-12 STEM education is key to preparing underrepresented minority young people for undergraduate education and beyond in STEM. Equally important is the aggressive recruitment, enrollment, education, retention, and graduation of increasing numbers of African American, American Indian, and Latino women and men by our nation’s engineering schools. NACME’s comprehensive portfolio of strategies across the continuum from middle school to workforce entry is designed to support this national imperative. This is why NACME has taken a stand against the anti-affirmative action movement in college admissions. We view this movement as yet another barrier being erected that will make it even more difficult to tap this source of talent.

On Tuesday, July 15, supporters of affirmative admissions policy in higher education were pleased when a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s consideration of race as one of the many factors in its admissions policy. Two key perspectives on the ongoing legal challenges to affirmative admissions policy in higher education help to level-set this issue.

First, from the legal opinion of Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham:

“We are persuaded that to deny U.T. Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience in contradiction of the plain teachings of Bakke and Grutter.”

Second, from the reaction to the ruling by William C. Powers Jr., the president of the University of Texas at Austin:

“This ruling ensures that our campus, our state and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events and in all aspects of campus life.”

The Supreme Court held in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) that student body diversity is a compelling governmental interest that can justify the use of race-conscious admissions in higher education. The University of Michigan Law School was permitted to use race as a factor in seeking a diverse student body, because the school deemed diversity essential to its educational objectives. In the present case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the plaintiff sought to undermine the Court’s significant and now well-established precedents, including its landmark 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.

The admissions policy at issue in Fisher has two components: Most University of Texas at Austin students are admitted under a state law (the “Top 10 Percent Plan”), which requires the institution to admit all students who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class. For the remainder of the class, the university undertakes a holistic “whole-file” review of applications. This process allows the school to consider additional criteria, such as essays, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities, awards, work experience, community service, family responsibilities, socio-economic status, languages spoken in the home, and—as of 2005—race. After the University of Texas at Austin added the consideration of race into its individualized admissions policy, African American enrollment grew by more than 21 percent. It is this modest consideration of race alongside a host of other factors that was at issue in the Supreme Court.

Leading corporations filed amicus briefs laying out the business case for diversity in Grutter. These arguments proved influential with the Court. Today, the business case for diversity is even more settled than it was at the time of Grutter. In the Fisher case, it was critical to convey to the Supreme Court that corporate America is opposed to any dilution of the diversity efforts that were found lawful in Grutter.

My July 31, 2012 communication to the NACME Board of Directors on this matter cited 25 corporations as having agreed to sign on to an amicus brief supporting the actions of the University of Texas at Austin by the filing deadline of August 13, 2013. I counted eight NACME Board Companies among this initial group of 25. This corporate amicus brief was part of a broad coalition supporting the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy, including numerous other colleges and universities, religious organizations, social science scholars, and leading civil rights organizations.

Alas, in 2013 the Supreme Court decided in a 7-to-1 ruling to vacate the decision by the appeals court and to force colleges to prove that they had tried every conceivable race-neutral admissions policy before introducing a limited consideration of race. The justices remanded the case and to the Fifth Circuit, requiring the lower court to re-examine the holistic, “whole-file” review policy in operation at the time at the University of Texas at Austin.

NACME’s voice has been heard in the various anti-affirmative action cases to come before the Supreme Court. An American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/NACME conference, organized in response to the Court’s decision in Grutter, resulted in a joint AAAS/NACME publication, Standing Our Ground, a guide for educators seeking diverse student bodies, while complying with the requirements of the Grutter decision. On January 15, 2008, 35 invited experts, comprising the academic, nonprofit, and business communities, gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss the ongoing legal threats to diversity in higher education Science and Technology (S&T) programs at a roundtable organized by AAAS and NACME, and with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dr. John Brooks Slaughter, former president and CEO of NACME, wrote several op-ed articles and policy papers on the issue, and NACME joined the amicus briefs in the Grutter v. Bollinger and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

As expected, the lawyers for Abigail N. Fisher have asked the full U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn the July 15, 2014 decision by a panel three of its judges in favor of the University of Texas at Austin. It is almost certain that the matter will once again be litigated before the Supreme Court.



]]> (Brenda ) Blog Tue, 05 Aug 2014 03:00:09 +0000
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!

]]> (Brenda ) Blog Thu, 26 Jun 2014 22:48:04 +0000
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!

]]> (Brenda ) Blog Tue, 03 Jun 2014 02:55:13 +0000
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.

]]> (Brenda ) Blog Tue, 06 May 2014 02:09:00 +0000
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.

]]> (Brenda ) Blog Tue, 01 Apr 2014 23:21:14 +0000
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.


]]> (Brenda ) Blog Tue, 04 Mar 2014 22:46:29 +0000