NACME in the News
NACME Supports Underrepresented Engineering Students
Bridging the racial gap in STEM education
Early education, parenting, and industry support: More than 500 children and parents, mostly from African American and Latin American communities in the Chicago area, attended the 2015 ChiS&E orientation at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Experts from National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Engineering offered advice about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. See three STEM tips for parents and for engineers.
The Chicago Pre-College Science & Engineering Program (ChiS&E) held its fall 2015 orientation session at the University of Illinois-Chicago on Sept. 19. More than 500 children and parents, mostly from African American and Latin American communities in the Chicago area, attended the event. The keynote speaker, Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) presented critical statistics about the racial gap in STEM education and encouraged attendees to start STEM education early.
Founded by Kenneth Hill in 2008, Chicago's ChiS&E has been providing inner city children and their parents from underrepresented communities the rare opportunity of engaging in hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
The nature of the problem
During his speech at the orientation, Dr. McPhail showed research data from NACME and identified the following facts to stress the importance of moving more underrepresented minority students into the STEM field.
"This is a serious problem for America. By 2050 no one race/ethnic category will be a majority." The less we engage the ability of the "new majority of Americans to compete, the more we will be threatened," suggested Dr. McPhail. Some of the key data included:
- Underrepresented minorities in STEM are three groups that have the lowest representation in the engineering education and the engineering workforce. These three groups are: African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians.
- By 2050, there will no longer be a majority race. The diversifying U.S. population makes it clear that the key to America's future global competitiveness in STEM is engaging underrepresented populations at all stages of the educational pathway. Currently, there is a relatively low representation of underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.
- African Americans make up 13.2% of the U.S. population. Despite a representative sample of African Americans seen in other degree programs, they are exceedingly underrepresented in engineering. African Americans only represent 4% of engineering bachelor's degree recipients, 3.6% of the engineering workforce, and 2.6% of engineering faculty.
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives are not prevalent in engineering. Although they make up 1.2% of the total population, they represent only 0.4% of all engineering bachelor's degree recipients, 0.3% of the engineering workforce, and 0.1% of all engineering faculty.
- Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the country. Currently, they represent 17.5% of the overall population and are expected to represent close to 27% of the population by 2050. Their representation in engineering, however, is not increasing proportionately. They constitute 9.0% of engineering bachelor's degree recipients, 6.3% of the engineering workforce, and 3.7% of engineering faculty.
- SAT scores for Illinois residents are much higher on average than the SAT scores of students in other locations. The average SAT score for Illinois residents is 616, compared to the national average of 513. However, the racial divide remains, as African American students score 95 points below their white peers and 137 points below their Asian peers.
Early education for STEM
To move more underrepresented minority students into the STEM field, Dr. McPhail stressed that early intervention efforts are needed to close the achievement gap. Early education and parenting are two key components of the early intervention.
ChiS&E provides early education to students from these groups. With free science and engineering workshops for students and their parents in grades K-3 to K-12, ChiS&E is developing and implementing family engagement programs in the field of early childhood education.
To add another important subject in the STEM field, physics, to the ChiS&E program, ChiS&E partnered with the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Chicago Public Schools to create the new physics program for 7th grade students. Dr. Kevin Pitts, associate dean of undergraduate programs and professor of physics at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Engineering, presented after Dr. McPhail to introduce the new program and inspired attendees to pursue STEM and see the fun side of physics.
Three STEM tips for parents
Parents should follow these strategies to inspire their children to pursue STEM education and careers:
- Be role models: Parents should introduce students to the STEM fields and cultivate student interest.
- Make STEM relatable: Video games, music, computers, cell phones, and automobiles are created by engineers.
- Encourage children to participate in extracurricular activities like clubs, field trips, after-school programs, and science research competitions.
Three ways working engineers can help STEM diversity
During an interview with CFE Media, Dr. McPhail presented three ways that working engineers and the industry can help support the development of underrepresented minorities' talent in the engineering field.
Reach out to the K-12 sector, actively engage the students and parents to raise awareness about STEM education, present engineering as a viable career choice, emphasize the excitement of innovation, serve as role models for young people, and provide infrastructure and tools to students via schools.
2. Sponsor scholarships
Companies can provide scholarship support for underrepresented minority students to enroll in and to excel in engineering education. So far, NACME has provided over $142 million in support to over 24,000 engineering students over 41 years. A large portion of the scholarship came from 32 companies that are a part of the NACME board of directors.
3. Provide internships
Companies can also be effective in providing internship opportunities. Internships will provide students with practical experiences and networking opportunities that can then lead to future hiring opportunities upon their graduation. The 2013-14 graduating NACME Scholars reported on 160 internship and co-op experiences at 118 companies, which represented industry, government, and higher education.
"The corporate sector is key, and practicing engineers are key. Their volunteerism and engagement can help move the needle in unrepresented minority representation in technology and engineering," said McPhail.
More about ChiS&E
The ChiS&E provides highly engaging, age-appropriate, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities for Chicago Public School (CPS) students in grades K-3 to K-12 and their parents.
ChiS&E has been awarded a $450,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) for its work in "developing and implementing transformative family engagement programs in the field of early childhood education." ChiS&E is one of 30 organizations out of 1,130 applicants, nationwide to be so honored; and one of only two organizations funded in the state of Illinois.
The free programs take place in the spring and fall of each year, kicked off by an orientation session designed to familiarize parents and their children with the process for engineering programs. Parental participation is an essential component of the program.
For more information, visit www.chiprep.org.
Texas A&M University earns top spot among NACME scholars
Minority Report: How Are Non-White Workers Faring In Westchester?
What is it like to be a minority in Westchester's business community?
Troubling Statistics for African Americans in STEM Careers
If you were to walk into any technology-driven enterprise in Westchester back in the 1970s, you would be hard-pressed to find one person of color among the ranks of engineers. That’s because minorities in the field of engineering were nearly nonexistent in Westchester 40 years ago—or anywhere in the US, according to Irving Pressley McPhail, EdD, of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) in White Plains. As NACME’s CEO, McPhail is focused on increasing the number of statistically underrepresented minority students earning degrees in engineering (minority students defined as African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Native Americans/Alaskans; interestingly, Asian Americans are not considered an underrepresented minority in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields). NACME does this by providing scholarship money to a network of elite universities that then recruit, enroll, retain, educate, and graduate these students.
In 2013, the number of minorities entering the workforce with engineering credentials was an estimated 13.4 percent, according to McPhail. In spite of these gains, McPhail is concerned. “The problem is that underrepresented minority students make up a much larger percent of total population than 13.4 percent,” he says.
Perhaps of even greater concern is the fact that African Americans are not keeping pace with other minority groups with respect to gains in engineering. In 2013, 9 percent of the total number of engineering degrees awarded to minorities went to Hispanic students, while 3.2 percent went to African Americans and 1.2 to Native Americans and Native Alaskans.
As an African American himself, McPhail says, “I believe there is a real crisis in the African-American community across the board…and in what’s happening in our schools. There are far too few of our young people who understand engineering and how exciting STEM careers are... We have to stay focused on this issue; if we don’t, we [the global technology-driven firms] run the risk of losing our competitive edge in STEM.”
Hispanic Businesses Becoming More Mainstream
Fannie Aleman, president of the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in White Plains, says there’s a major cultural change happening within Westchester’s Hispanic business community. “We are evolving, remaining true to our roots, while still becoming part of mainstream America—breaking free of traditional thinking and becoming more strategic,” she says.
Aleman also explains that the strong growth in Hispanic and Latino businesses in Westchester can be attributed, in part, to these business owners making a shift into less-traditional business arenas. “Today, more Hispanic business owners are looking to open a business in high-growth industries and where they can fill a market need,” she explains. In another break from tradition, she notes, “We are pushing to have more women break into industries like STEM and construction that were traditionally dominated by men.”
Aleman suggests that the biggest challenges facing Hispanic and Latino business owners in Westchester are not actually unique to Latino-owned businesses. “The biggest challenges are associated with licensing and regulations because many small business owners don’t have the time to navigate confusing websites, paperwork, et cetera. But I think this is true for all small business owners—not just Latinos and not just minorities,” she says. Read more.
Here's how P&G plans to get more underrepresented minorities into STEM jobs
Event aims to attract minorities to STEM jobs
Building a broader base of creative and innovative engineers is crucial to maintaining a competitive workforce in today's global economy.
And that will be a challenge when 90 percent of the state's engineers are Caucasian and largely male, said Irving Pressley McPhail, president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, a nonprofit organization designed to increase awareness of engineering careers for minority students.
McPhail's White Plains, New York-based organization visited the Greater Cincinnati region and made a stop at Procter & Gamble's headquarters Downtown Wednesday to explain the importance of attracting minority students to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, careers.
Ohio STEM careers are expected to grow by 153,000 jobs by 2018.
"By 2050, there will no longer be a majority race in the nation," McPhail said. "Currently there is relatively low representation in the field for minorities, which can be traced to elementary and middle-school preparation."
The event at P&G was attended by roughly 200 area high school students and business leaders interested in diversifying their workforce.
"NACME has been focused like a laser on increasing numbers of underrepresented minorities in STEM," McPhail said, adding that, on average, black Ohioan students score lower on the SAT and ACT than the state and national average.
"And there is much work to do," he said.
P&G executives in attendance emphasized the importance of having a diverse workforce in maintaining their global competitiveness.
"The reason is why our brand does so well is because our products serve our consumers in a way that shows P&G understands their customer," said William Gipson, chief diversity office and senior vice president for research and development in Asia. "Our workforce needs to reflect the identity of our customers."
He added, "The business of innovation is all about solving problems. We fundamentally believe a diverse workforce does a better job of solving those problems."
Others talked about how to bring more minorities into STEM careers.
"The more we can demystify these careers, the more we'll see them (minority students) attracted to these jobs," said Denise Casey, executive director of Minorities in Mathematics, Science & Engineering.
Lourdes Albacarys, P&G's vice president of research and development, said parents need to get their children involved in science and technology when they're young.
"There are so many programs in Cincinnati for students, like the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, that encourage students to get involved in STEM," Albacarys said. "You have to get them involved early."
BE SMART > EDUCATION
An answer to Silicon Valley's race problem
The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering—better known as NACME—may hold a key to one of Silicon Valley’s most highly publicized and seemingly intractable problems: its pervasive lack of diversity. The nonprofit, founded 41 years ago as a scholarship organization, is partnering with Hewlett-Packard to set aside funds for minority students who study computer science or software engineering.
Working with Silicon Valley is just one of NACME’s recent developments. Led by Irving Pressley McPhail, Ph.D., NACME also recently won its first National Science Foundation grant. The organization is the largest private provider of scholarship support to underrepresented groups—African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans—in engineering education. Since its founding, NACME has provided $142 million in scholarships to 24,000 students of color. And NACME scholars outperform their peers: They have a 79% six-year retention rate to a degree (and a GPA of 3.233). Engineering students in general have a six-year retention rate of 62%; minority engineering students that are not in NACME have a retention rate of 39%.
Engineering is a critical field that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will enjoy robust job growth. According to a 2012 post on Forbes.com, of the 15 most valuable college majors in terms of pay and job opportunity through 2020, engineering majors make up one third. The No. 1 major? Biomedical engineering; software, environmental, civil , and petroleum engineering majors were all in the top nine.
Yet African Americans make up only 3.6% of the engineering workforce and 2.6% of engineering faculty, despite constituting 14.8% of the U.S. college-aged population.
To accomplish its mission of diversifying the field of engineering, NACME employs a four-pronged strategy: pre-engineering, research and program evaluation, and engineering public policy, in addition to scholarship support.
NACME recognizes that developing the strong math and critical thinking skills that engineering requires has to start early. The organization has developed a set of materials that introduce middle school students to engineering—that explain what engineering is and why it’s exciting, asking, Have you ever wanted to build a mobile phone or design a high-tech car? The materials explain that, if you have, engineering may be the career for you. They also point out the courses that should be taken and focus on parents, kids, and middle school guidance counselors.
At the high school level, NACME has partnered with two other renowned national organizations: the National Academy Foundation and Project Lead The Way. “We’re involved in an important initiative designed to open academies of engineering across the nation,” says McPhail, president and CEO of NACME since 2009.
Community College students
McPhail, who previously led two large community colleges: Community College of Baltimore County, as chancellor; and St. Louis Community College, as president, says, “I have a strong commitment to the community college. We’re using the 51 universities in our partner network and seeking to leverage support for community college transfers.” Noting that community colleges are feeder schools to certain engineering programs, he says, “We want to incentivize that effort by setting aside a percentage of our scholarships for students who transfer from community college.”
Regarding NACME’s public policy strategy, McPhail says ,“We try to take our message to Washington, to make certain when the Congress and others debate issues of U.S. competitiveness that there’s a clear recognition that America can never reach and maintain its cutting-edge posture in STEM unless there is a concerted effort to bring more underrepresented minorities” into the field.
In spite of the glamour and ubiquity of technology, only a minority of NACME scholars major in computer science and software engineering. “In our most recent annual report you’ll see that about 3% of our NACME scholars are majoring in computer science or information systems technology; 11% are in computer engineering,” McPhail notes.
Yet, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, 50% of STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science related fields. So NACME is partnering with Hewlett-Packard to build a pipeline for underrepresented groups in computer science.
“Hewlett-Packard, a longtime member of the NACME board—David Packard was an original co-founder of NACME—is walking with us in a project called Go West,” says McPhail, “an initiative led by Hewlett-Packard designed to get NACME in front of Silicon Valley, which had recently been trying to hire minority workers. NACME can be a solution to their conundrum. Led by executives at Hewlett-Packard and others with my own internal NACME staff,” Go West has the goal of getting NACME to increase its financial support for underrepresented minority students who major in computer science, software engineering, and computer engineering, McPhail says.
For more information about NACME, to download its materials for middle school and high school students, or to access its extensive research briefs, go to www.nacme.org.
NACME President and CEO Irving Pressley McPhail to Address Class of 2015 at NJIT's 99th Commencement
NACME CEO to Speak at Engineering Commencement
Irving Pressley McPhail, president and chief executive officer of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc., is the 2015 commencement speaker for the College of Engineering.
Engineering commencement for the class of 2015 will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 9, in Barnhill Arena on the University of Arkansas campus.
McPhail was named the sixth president and CEO of NACME in 2009, after joining the council in 2007 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Under McPhail's presidency, NACME received the 2012 Claire Felbinger Award for Diversity from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Prior to joining NACME, McPhail founded and served as principal of The McPhail Group LLC. He served 15 years as a college president or chancellor at The Community College of Baltimore County, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, and LeMoyne-Owen College. McPhail also served as chief operating officer of the Baltimore City Public Schools. Under his leadership, The Community College of Baltimore County was named one of 12 Vanguard Learning Colleges in the U.S. and Canada in 2000 by the League for Innovation in the Community College, won the Bellwether Award in the category of Planning, Finance and Governance in 2000 and was awarded the PBS O'Banion Prize for Leading the Way to Change in Teaching and Learning in 2003.
McPhail has held tenured full professorships at three colleges and universities and served as an affiliate or visiting professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Pennsylvania, and Morgan State University. He is the co-editor of "Teaching African American Learners to Read: Perspectives and Practices," published by the International Reading Association in 2005 and the author of more than 50 journal articles, chapters, monographs, and technical reports.
McPhail serves on the board of directors of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation, the Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
McPhail earned a bachelor's degree in development sociology at Cornell University and a master's degree in reading at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned a doctorate in reading and language arts at the University of Pennsylvania as a National Fellowships Fund Fellow and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 2010.
Find additional information about the College of Engineering commencement.
Katie Chevrier, communications intern
College of Engineering
Camilla Shumaker, director of communications
College of Engineering
NACME works to enlist more Latino, African American and American Indian men and women into the engineering field
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) works to enlist more Latino, African American, and American Indian women and men into the engineering field
Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, the President & CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc, Inc. (NACME), recently visited the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (PUPR) to meet with engineering students receiving scholarships and mentoring support through NACME. The Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico is a NACME partner organization.
Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail (center left), President & CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME), meets with Ernesto Va’zquez-Barquet (center right), President of The Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, along with students and faculty during a recent visit to the college.
Since its inception in 1974, NACME has provided $142 million in scholarships and support to 24,000 Latino, African American and American Indian engineering students. As graduation season approaches, students and parents of the class of 2015 (High School and College) will be thinking about their career prospects. Forbes Magazine recently compiled a list of “The Most Valuable College Majors” based on starting salary, mid-career salary and long term career prospects.
Of the 15 “Most Valuable Majors” 5 are in the engineering field. This is just one of the reasons the organization is working to introduce more Latinos to this field.
An equally important part of NACME's effort is to get students at the middle and high school levels interested in careers in engineering. They have created a range of materials for students, including “Engineer Something Amazing!,” to be distributed in the schools. The materials are available in Spanish and English.
Obtain information about the exciting things you can do as an engineer at www.nacme.org
February 13, 2015
In early September, my sixth grade students gathered together to watch, wide-eyed, as I used a hair dryer to float a Ping-Pong ball in mid-air. Shouts of "Can I try that?" quickly made way to more sophisticated questioning, with students wondering what would happen if they changed the temperature of the hair dryer's air, or whether they could float the ball using their own breath. This lesson is among my favorite of the year because it provides my first glimpse at the science skills students bring to our class.
The lesson also gives me a sense of our work for the year. The vague language in the first week's observations will be replaced by scientific vocabulary, and students will learn to clarify and investigate their questions about the floating ball. Then in June, I'll cross my fingers, hoping that these thoughtful, inquisitive students will have the opportunity to engage in great science classes for each of the six years remaining before high school graduation.
In Massachusetts, where science and technology innovations contribute greatly to our economy, identity, and pride, improving educational opportunities in these fields seems especially important. While recent National Assessment of Educational Progressresults show our students to be among the top performers in the country, only 42% of Massachusetts eighth graders scored proficient on the 2014 Science MCAS. The remaining 61% of students were unable to correctly answer two thirds of the test questions. Though a test is just one measure of science achievement, proficiency on that test is one of the prerequisites for success in high school science. We're lucky to have excellent teachers with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content expertise in Massachusetts classrooms inspiring the next generation of biologists and computer scientists. However, we need many more to ensure that all kids across the Commonwealth have access to the excellent STEM education that will get them on track to choose science careers.
One of the most important steps we can take to strengthen STEM education is to invest in our teachers. This year, a partnership between Teach For America-Massachusetts and the Biogen Idec Foundation will focus on the recruitment, training, and support new STEM teachers across Massachusetts. I'm excited about the partnership because I believe that Teach For America's model of recruiting a diverse group of teachers - many who majored in STEM fields in college or who have had professional STEM experience - draws STEM subject matter experts into classrooms.
To boost the number of people with STEM expertise choosing to teach, it's critical that we show our undergraduate science majors that teaching is a meaningful, impactful, and valued career pathway that offers endless challenges and rewards as they utilize their specialized training and breadth of knowledge every day. I've seen that my biology studies in college have informed my teaching every day, from weighing the importance of concepts when time runs short to designing engaging lessons around scientific practices like collaboration and observation. Undergraduate studies in STEM are not the only components of an effective science teacher, and not all effective science teachers formally studied STEM, but it's a valuable resource here in Massachusetts we must tap.
Because teacher shortages in STEM subjects are more likely to impact low-income communities of color, increasing our STEM teaching ranks is another necessary step to improving representation of low-income and minority students in advanced studies and careers in science. Too often, low-income students, students of color, and English Language Learners, like my students, have inequitable access to STEM opportunities.
In turn, limited access to higher level coursework contributes to a lack of diversity in STEM careers.The American Physical Societyreported that less than 10% of physics degrees were awarded to students of color in 2012. According to a NACME study, only 3% of engineers identify as African American. These numbers are even harder to digest when I experience my students' enthusiasm for science, only to think of how that may fade if it is not nurtured. Educators with demonstrated experience and passion for STEM learning can continue to foster the same excitement in our students, and give them the opportunity to become the next generation of STEM leaders in Massachusetts.
During a MassBio Candidate Forum this fall, Governor Charlie Baker said we need to ask the people who are "really good at doing STEM education" to help others understand how to expand great STEM education to every child. Let's take it one step further and recruit and train more of those experts to lead our science classrooms. No student deserves to be shut out of a career in our thriving STEM economy because we offer them inadequate preparation during their pre-K-12 years. And with the inclusion of a more diverse group of thinkers engaged in science and technology careers, innovation in Massachusetts is bound to thrive.
Erin Dukeshire teaches sixth grade science at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury. An alumna of Teach For America, Erin became a teacher after studying biology at Bowdoin College, and after years of watching her parents teach in public schools in Agawam, Ludlow, and for the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative. She is a 2012 Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.