USD's Chapter Attends, Excels at National Society of Black Engineers Convention

2019 National Society of Black Engineers USD chapterMembers of the USD National Society of Black Engineers chapter recently attended the NSBE national convention in Detroit for professional development opportunities as well as visiting with USD alumni.

The University of San Diego’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) attended the 45th annual NSBE Convention in Detroit, Mich., from March 27-31, 2019.

NSBE, which is committed to increasing the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact their communities, gave USD’s group the chance to attend a convention that showcases and connects black students and professionals who are passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The USD chapter participated in this year’s convention which was its largest to date with 14,000 attendees.

First-year student Maleah Harshman, who majors in Computer Science, was one of three USD chapter members to be nominated and to win a regional position.

“It was a great introduction into the world of employment for a new STEM student like myself,” Harshman said. “There were numerous workshops, seminars, luncheons, and activities that benefited those who were attending for the first time, as well as those attending for their fifth time.” The best part of the convention, she said, were the connections she made with people across the country that not only looked like her, but also shared a passion for STEM.

“I want other students like me to understand that they have a right, no matter what field they study or career path they are on, to succeed, and NSBE is the national base of support dedicated to helping us achieve that,” said Harshman, who was recently elected as the 2019-2020 Southern California zone chair.

TJ Horne, president of the USD NSBE chapter, set up meetings with campus administrators such as Elisa Lurkis, director of development for the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, Chell Roberts, PhD, dean of the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, Provost and Vice President Gail F. Baker, PhD, and Carmen Vazquez, vice president of student affairs, to share the meaning and value of the convention.

The USD chapter worked with them to gain funding to attend the conference. Lurkis made inroads with Clarity Design, Meijer, and the top contributor, San Diego Gas and Electric who matched funds up to $10,000. In total, through individual donations from a student fundraising campaign, USD divisions and industry support, USD’s NSBE chapter raised over $27,000 to cover the registration fees, housing and flights for 18 members.

Rhonda Harley, USD’s NSBE advisor and assistant director of Career Development for the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, worked hard with the NSBE executive board to plan and organize logistics for the convention. This planning included two preparatory meetings which were mandatory for all attendees and was comprised of a resume workshop, networking prep and community building. The final preparatory meeting also invited USD and NSBE alumni Joshua Williams and Devyn Bryant, and current national NSBE chapter member Jayton Harps who shared tips and personal experiences for the convention.

At the convention, Harley assisted students in navigating the extensive career fair where they had the potential to get interviews and offers on the spot. Many USD chapter members had interviews on site with one receiving an official offer.

Some additional highlights for Harley involved positive experiences with USD alumni. Matt Craig, a 2003 engineering alumnus, hosted the chapter for a panel discussion with engineers and entrepreneurs in the Detroit area and got the entire USD group tickets to a Detroit Red Wings hockey game. Harley and Dean Roberts, who was also in attendance at the convention, also saw “Hamilton,” the musical and met the actor who played the lead role of Alexander Hamilton, Edred Utomi ’13 (BA).

“This was a very meaningful and impactful experience for all participants and we look forward to the convention next year in San Antonio, Texas,” said Harley.

Second-year student Lauren Washington, an Industrial and Systems Engineering major and USD NSBE vice president, was nominated and elected to hold the NSBE Region VI Programs Chair position for 2019-20 after giving a speech in front of other chapters from the region.

“Being nominated for such a high-up regional position was an honor,” said Washington. Her highlights included having meaningful and insightful conversations at various points, from attending a luncheon hosted by Snapchat to engaging with employers that USD NSBE has previously hosted.

Washington says USD’s NSBE chapter hopes to have a bigger presence to share its mission statement on campus as well as across San Diego.

“We won our first-ever regional award for having the highest attendance from a small chapter. Next year, we are going to strive to win chapter of the year because we hope to see and bring new faces to the NSBE national convention in San Antonio.”

— Vayunamu Bawa ’19


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