NACME BLOG

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!

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