Going Virtual Has Not Slowed Student Organization for Black Engineers

As students settle in to a term filled with virtual classes and online quizzes, student organizations are seeking creative ways to keep their membership connected and recruit new students to take advantage of the academic and social benefits that they offer.

Group of students outside in front of Philadelphia skyline
NSBE members gethered together in pre-pandemic times.

Among these organizations is Drexel’s active chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Founded nationally in 1971, NSBE seeks to address implicit bias in engineering fields by connecting and creating opportunities for Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

In an on-campus term, Drexel’s chapter of NSBE would offer its 120 members a robust slate of events, including general meetings, mixers, faculty and student meet and greets, social gatherings and opportunities to serve the community, perhaps by preparing meals or painting a mural. Career focused activities often include bringing guest professional engineers to campus to meet with students.

“We want to create a family and a home away from home for our members,” says Javion Smith-Sanders, Drexel NSBE’s president. “Because systemic racism affects so many aspects of our lives, it’s not uncommon for Black engineering students to find themselves alone in their classes. Our goal is to help them see that there are people like them in STEM majors and to see professional engineers who are Black.”

Group of students volunteering at community kitchen
NSBE members volunteered at a community kitchen during a recent day of service..

The virtual term has not slowed down the chapter down. It has kicked off with a co-sponsored Zoom mixer with other Black student groups on campus, including the Drexel Black Action Committee, the Black Student Union, the Drexel African Student Association and the West Indian Student Establishment. They also hosted a virtual meeting to help students find a co-op and held a Q&A session for first year students.

On Thursday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m., they will co-host a virtual career fair prep event with the Philadelphia professional chapter of the NSBE. They’ll offer office hours on October 4 at 4 p.m. and hold a general body meeting on October 7 at 6 pm.

“Our goal is to help them see that there are people like them in STEM majors and to see professional engineers who are Black.”
Javion Smith-Sanders, Drexel NSBE president

“Our mission doesn’t change because we’re online,” Smith-Sanders says. “We need to support students the best that we can. We want to be sure that new students have access to course materials and that we can continue to connect students with each other and with role models in industries that relate to their studies.”

For information about upcoming events, follow Drexel’s NSBE chapter on Instagram and sign up for updates on their DragonLink page.

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