National Society of Black Engineers Aims to Create Early Interest in STEM

It also hopes to inspire a lifetime of learning in students.

A student in National Society of Black Engineers
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has many K-12 chapters in New Jersey, as well as branches at local colleges. Photo: Courtesy of National Society of Black Engineers

In the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Black students are still severely underrepresented. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is working to close this gap by “increasing the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.”

The NSBE was started almost 50 years ago on the campus of Purdue University by students who saw the need to be intentionally focused on advancing Black people in engineering programs. Their vision and legacy have lived on through the 20,000-plus members they have today and 790 chapters in the United States and abroad. 

Throughout its history, NSBE has had an incredible record of success and has been supported by the likes of Shirley Chisholm, who, in 1979, became the first Black woman to run for President. The NSBE launched its first international chapter in London in 1992. Today its New Jersey, collegiate chapters include the College of New Jersey, Rutgers University, Rowan University, NJIT and Stevens Institute of Technology, and its K-12 chapters in New Jersey are too numerous to list, but include East Brunswick, Morristown, Newark, Piscataway, and Burlington, to name just a few.

At the K-12 level, NSBE offers a variety of programs designed to encourage pre-collegiate students to develop an interest in STEM. According to Rochelle Williams, PhD, chief programs and membership officer of NSBE, “It is so important that we not only spark the interest at a young age, but that we sustain it. The latest research is telling us that girls in middle school lose their interest in math and science. That is when their interest changes.”

Whether it is their Pre-College Initiative (PCI) program or NSBE Jr., it is all about enhancing pre-college students’ academic, technical and leadership skills with the goal of maximizing their success in life. The vision for NSBE’s K-12 programs is for their PCI program to be an incubator, nurturing and guiding youths through their academic careers. 

Says Williams, “The mentoring piece is so important. NSBE has people that support young adults in the social context and the technical context as they go through their K-12 pathway.”

At the collegiate level, membership is open to any undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a science, technology, engineering or math degree program. And even college students majoring in other disciplines are eligible to become collegiate affiliate members. 

As for the benefits of being an NSBE member? They include access to employers at both their regional conferences and the annual Convention Career Fair; academic support via tutoring and academic-achievement programs; leadership development; and opportunities to meet students and professionals in STEM fields.

NSBE is a resource for professionals and organizations alike, providing professional development, career assistance, and partnership opportunities in a pipeline of programs, events and conferences that link together corporations and individuals seeking to help NSBE fulfill its mission and impact the community. 

To learn more about NSBE or to find a chapter near you, visit

Steve Adubato, PhD, is the author of six books, including his newest, Lessons in Leadership 2.0: The Tough Stuff. He is an Emmy Award–winning anchor with programs airing on Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJ PBS. He has also appeared on CNN, CBS News and NBC’s Today show. Steve Adubato’s Lessons in Leadership video podcast, with cohost Mary Gamba, airs Sundays at 10 am on News 12+. For more information, visit

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