Developing and Retaining Next-Gen African-American Engineers

by March 9, 2015

Washington — The National Society of Black Engineers, the largest student-governed engineering organization in the country, and the American Society of Civil Engineers announced their renewed strategic partnership in a ceremony on Feb. 24 at the National Academy of Sciences’ Great Hall in Washington, D.C. The organizations’ leaders signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to combine their resources and expertise to increase the retention, representation and development of African-American civil engineers in the U.S. workforce.

  “NSBE recognizes that it cannot fulfill its mission without strategic partnerships with the U.S. engineering community,” said NSBE National Chairperson Sossena Wood. “This MOU with our first strategic partner, the American Society of Civil Engineers, is another major step toward supporting our members, building our organizations, growing the number of underrepresented engineers and accomplishing much for the U.S. engineering profession.”

“As leading engineering professional societies, ASCE and NSBE are uniquely and strategically positioned to address the U.S. engineering workforce and innovation challenges our nation faces,” said ASCE President Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE. “This MOU represents the collaborative actions ASCE and NSBE are undertaking to attract, develop and retain current and future black civil engineers.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, African-Americans represented 5.5 percent of the country’s engineering workforce and 5.4 percent of the civil engineering workforce. The statistics also showed that African-Americans represented only 3.4 percent of college students who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and 3.3 percent of those earning a master’s degree in the same discipline.

Under the terms of the MOU, NSBE and ASCE will offer reciprocal memberships, co-sponsor frequent professional development, continuing education, mentoring and leadership development programming, and promote and support student and local chapter collaborations. The organizations will also engage in large-scale efforts aimed at promoting awareness and interest in engineering careers, such as an upcoming IMAX film and educational project, – DreamBig! (

Founded in 1975, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. With more than 31,000 members and more than 300 chapters in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professional and positively impact the community.” For more information, visit

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 146,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, graded America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure at a D+. For more information, visit, and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel. •

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