NACME in the News

NACME CEO to Speak at Engineering 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.

Irving Pressley McPhail, president and chief executive officer of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc.


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 
479-575-5697, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Camilla Shumaker, director of communications 
College of Engineering 
479-575-5697, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



NACME works to enlist more Latino, African American and American Indian men and women into the engineering field

April 10, 2015

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.

Seaman Anthony Rossiter

  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



We need more STEM experts in Massachusetts classrooms: Guest viewpoint

February 13, 2015Summer Camps-STEM

This undated photo provided by Destination Science shows, teacher Suman VonWolzogen, second left, and young campers "Observing Sublimation" at Destination Science Camp in Fullerton, Calif. STEM summer camps, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, are more popular and plentiful than ever. (AP Photo/Destination Science, Jon C. Haverstick)

By Erin Dukeshire

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.



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