NACME in the News

Intel Design Ideation Camp

On September 21, NACME Board Company Intel, in partnership with fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, hosted a group of talented female engineering students at NACME Partner Institution, NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering MakerSpace, to kick off their first ever Design Ideation Camp. Freshmen to seniors participated in an all day workshop lead by Henrik Scheel, Founder and CEO of Startup Experience Inc., meant to inspire students to unleash their creativity through technology.

The women heard from fashion mogul Rebecca Minkoff, Co-founder and Creative Director of Rebecca Minkoff and her brother Uri Minkoff, about the merging of fashion and technology industries and how, with a little creativity, engineering and technology together can revolutionize the fashion world.

NYU Tandon students listened as Rebecca and Uri discussed the importance of a STEM degree and explained how fashion is no longer driven solely by the creative side but now, technology and engineering professionals are getting an equal share in the process. For women looking for a way to break out of traditional engineering roles, the workshop encouraged them to “stay with it” and pursue STEM degrees, which have proven to be a real asset in the fashion world.

When asked about the job market for female engineers looking for non-traditional engineering roles, Rebecca Minkoff responded, she would hire four female programmers in a heartbeat with the talent to combine fashion and technology, but they’re just not there. The market is rapidly expanding and the need for students graduating with STEM degrees and an interest in the fashion industry is only going to increase.

To further portray the need for engineers in the fashion industry, Rhonda James, Intel Global Diversity & Inclusion/ Strategy & External Alliances and NACME Board Liasion, presented a video of their collaborations with designer Ezra & Tuba, showcasing a beautiful silver and blue gown covered with shimmering butterflies programmed with the Intel Edison Chip to fly off the dress and flap their expertly crafted wings before settling back down on the dresses shoulders. As the designers of the dress stated, “The future of clothing as we know it, is about to change. To be a part of this change we need technology” (view the butterfly dress in action). Through Intel’s presentation and Q&A with Rebecca and Uri Minkoff, the women in attendance were inspired to explore non-traditional uses for their STEM degrees and discover what other skills were crucial to being a successful engineer in the fashion industry.

To lead them through the Design Ideation Camp, Intel introduced the women to Henrik Scheel. Henrik is a Danish serial entrepreneur currently living in San Francisco where he focuses on projects in entrepreneurship education, impact investing, and tech startups in various sectors. NACME’s Chief Development Officer, Elizabeth Ross, and Development Coordinator, Chelsea Chateauvert, were invited to participate in brainstorming exercises lead by Henrik as female students from all engineering disciplines were inspired to solve everyday problems through a combination of technology and fashion design. “Our group had some brilliant ideas on how to solve the fear of sexual assault for women using different types of smart jewelry with built-in alert systems and GPS tracking capabilities,” said Chelsea Chateauvert, “the women discussed what types of technology would be needed to make the product work and were conscientious about the design to help the product appeal to female consumers.”

One of the key lessons learned by these women through the all day workshop was, in order to be successful as an engineer, no matter your gender or ethnicity; you need to think creatively about solving problems that affect you as an individual. They truly learned how to “unleash their creativity with technology” and came to understand how creative thinking is exactly what makes diverse engineers, whether African American, American Indian, Latino, or women in general, stand out and drive innovation among a white male dominated industry. Bottom line, “It’s time for women to even the score!”

Special thanks to NACME Partners, Intel and NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, for hosting the next generation of female engineers for a great day of creative learning.



NACME Works to Ensure Accessible, Affordable, and Accountable Engineering Education for Minorities

NACME Works to Ensure Accessible, Affordable, and Accountable Engineering Education for Minorities


Motivated by the staggeringly low number of minorities in STEM programs and professions, minority leaders, business executives, the academic community, and corporations came together in the early 1970s to create four unaffiliated organizations to address this issue. However, it wasn’t until several years later when these groups merged to form the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), that real change began.

“NACME … was charted to conduct research, identify the impediments limiting access to careers in engineering, and implement programs to achieve a technical workforce that’s truly reflective of the American population,” says NACME President and CEO Irving Pressley McPhail, EdD.

And since the organization’s founding, underrepresented minorities in engineering have increased from 2 to 12 percent.

NACME’s ability to help reduce this disparity is due to its multifaceted approach, says Christopher Smith, PhD, the organization’s director of scholarships, university relations, and research. To overcome barriers and increase access to the profession, NACME focuses on three key areas: scholarship programs, an online career center, and data collection.

For more than 40 years, NACME has awarded scholarships to African American, American Indian, and Latino students seeking degrees in engineering. Through its NACME Scholars Program, it allocates block grants to U.S. colleges and universities — partners of NACME — that distribute the money as scholarships to talented underrepresented minority students.

NACME also provides scholarships directly to students via several fellowship awards. Since its founding, the organization has awarded more than $150 million in scholarship and program support to 24,000 underrepresented minority students.

Smith says scholarships are key to easing students’ stress and debt load, helping keep them on the path to success.

“Scholarships are a really important aid for students,” he says. “Working during college is not a detriment, but it can become taxing on a student and [hurt] their ability to be retained in school. [Scholarship money] helps them avoid loans, it helps them avoid extra long hours at work while they’re studying, it helps them enroll full time as opposed to part time, and [it helps them] advance faster in their education.”

But as far as partner institutions go, NACME is selective and expects schools that receive funds to be actively moving the needle. The organization seeks colleges and universities “that demonstrate their capacity to recruit, admit, retain, educate, and graduate underrepresented minority engineering students,” says Aileen Walters, vice president of the career center, community, and partnerships at NACME. And, Smith says, schools continue to be held accountable in these areas throughout the life of
the partnership.

“We’re not just distributing money to these institutions, we’re also collecting key data from them,” he says. “Some of [what we] collect … are the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in engineering, as well as how their peers are doing in the college of engineering. And if there is a gap, say at the start of the grant period, we want to see progress toward parity over time.”

Much of the data NACME has collected has shown striking differences between NACME scholars and other students. According to McPhail, a study of six-year graduation rates of NACME scholars revealed a rate of 79.1 percent. “That 79.1 percent compares to 39 percent for all other minority students majoring in engineering, and it compares to 62 percent for [non-minority] students, so you’re talking about a level of accomplishment that exponentially exceeds the norm,” says McPhail.

Beyond education, NACME works to connect its scholars to summer internships and full-time jobs.

While increasing minority participation in engineering remains NACME’s central objective, the motivation driving that goal has expanded over time.

“The number of underrepresented minorities in this country is growing,” Smith says. “It is important to get these groups involved in these educational opportunities so they have a chance to advance American competitiveness in engineering.”●

Alexandra Vollman is the editor of INSIGHT Into Diversity

NACME Supports Underrepresented Engineering Students

NACME Supports Underrepresented Engineering Students


Connectivity 2020 strategy focuses on internships, full-time hires





NACME, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, has been supporting engineering students of color since 1979, thanks to its generous corporate partners.

BE Smart recently sat down with Irving Pressley McPhail, Ed.D., NACME’s CEO and president, to talk about the organization’s work providing scholarship support to underrepresented students, and its new strategic direction.

How does NACME support underrepresented engineering students?

NACME is the largest private provider of scholarship support for underrepresented minority students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in engineering. We define “underrepresented” as African American, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native women and men.

Because of our corporate partners, NACME can support the production of talented minority students in engineering, and our corporate partners benefit by bringing extremely talented young people into their companies.

What has been NACME’s overall strategy?

NACME has embraced a strategic direction for the last five years that we called Connectivity 2015, which took us from 2010 to 2015. We embraced four key result areas:

  • Scholarships
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Pre-engineering
  • Engineering public policy

The contributions from our global engineering companies allowed us to support activities and accomplishments across those four areas, with the primary focus being scholarship support for our NACME scholars.

Our new strategic plan is Connectivity 2020, which embraces slight changes in direction based on our experience as well as the needs of the nation and the needs of our companies. Our new plan includes the theme College to Career.

We’re adding the career focus to more aggressively connect our scholars to our corporate partners for internships and full-time hires. So the core business of NACME today has been redefined as scholarship support and career development—internships and full-time hires. These represent the areas where NACME is pursuing direct engagement.

Is there an area of indirect engagement?

The second part of the strategy is our community partnership model, which involves our indirect engagement.

In this, NACME forges partnerships and collaborates with like-minded organizations to drive the pipeline—the pathway of preparation from K-12—as well as to influence the national discussion on U.S. competitiveness and where diversity and inclusion fits in. NACME isn’t driving the agenda but contributing to its support.

Given the resources available to NACME, the complexity of the K-12 STEM education issues, our board and management determined that NACME could be more effective as a major partner as opposed to a prime mover in the policy and K-12 space. NACME can best use its resources from corporate partners to drive the scholarship program and connect NACME scholars to internships and full-time hires at companies.


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