With more than 320 student organizations on campus, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle.
However, a nationally renowned humanitarian and educational powerhouse should receive the more recognition.
One of the most underrated organizations at Temple, the National Society of Black Engineers, won four awards during the National Convention in St. Louis on April 23-24.
“We won the Region 2 Medium Chapter of the Year for the second year in a row,” said programs chair and senior mechanical engineering major Ishmael Kamara.
“In the Boeing Flight Competition where participants are asked to create a glider from one sheet of Balsa wood to carry at least two quarters, one of our teams placed third in the flight distance competition and won $400 while our other team placed first in the presentation and design category to win $800.”
The Temple chapter, outlasting 44 other schools, became the first ever to win the award for the Freshman Retention program, which was worth a total of $5,000.
“Our newly elected president Gene Council will decide what we do with the money,” Kamara said.
The National Society of Black Engineers strives to involve minorities in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
“There is a lack of minorities in the fields when you compare it to other majors in America,” Kamara said. “A lot of students are scared of math or have difficulty grasping it.”
“When you talk to someone interested in engineering, mathematics or one of the other science related fields and tell them they have to take at least up to Calculus II, they shy away from the field,” Kamara added. “Someone who becomes frustrated early on with math tends to stay frustrated throughout their schooling.”
The success of the NSBE can be traced to the weekly efforts made in preparing for the job market.
“Our general body meetings focus on working with our members to succeed professionally through workshops that focus on skills such as improving resumes and having speakers talk to them about what it takes to work in the engineering field,” Kamara said.
“In addition to weekly study nights, we have our pre-college initiative program where high school students come into the College of Engineering to participate in different engineering projects and receive mentoring,” Kamara added. “Outside the classroom, we engage in community service events such as the AIDS Walk and Toys for Tots.”
Focusing on the future of engineering, the NSBE instituted the Freshman Retention program in order to maintain the number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who originally declared engineering as their major.
“Since I was able to nationally register our chapter last fall, we have been implementing several changes to the program,” Kamara said.
“[We’ve had] graduate school workshops, panel discussions and ‘True Life: I’m a S.T.E.M. Major’ where we had our members act out different scenarios that they may experience in their daily lives,” Kamara said. “This year we will have over 15 students from our NSBE chapter graduate with degrees in engineering from Temple, and hopefully we can increase that number in the future.”
Paying back the community that has inspired its progress, the NSBE has a responsibility to act as role models for the city’s youth.
“We are involved in the technical outreach and community help program, which encourages NSBE chapters to positively impact their surrounding communities,” Kamara said.
“Volunteering on [Martin Luther King Jr. Day] to fix up a community center, cleaning up Broad and Olney [streets] on the annual Philadelphia cleanup day,and serving meals to the homeless in Center City are priorities for NSBE,” Kamara said. “We even donated backpacks full of school supplies to help our high school students start off the year.”
With the end of the year approaching, the NSBE has capitalized by developing the Confessions of a Graduating Senior program.
Although Gov. Tom Corbett has failed to provide for the students of the future, the NSBE is picking up the slack with every chance they get.
“What happens when you get seniors from seven different organizations to talk about their undergraduate success and regrets?” Kamara said. “You provide a college guideline for underclassmen. Topics discussed include craziest experience, most embarrassing moment, best advice and the benefits of student organizations.”
John Corrigan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.