By The Charleston Chronicle
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) will present the 13th iteration of its Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) this year at 14 sites in 12 U.S. cities. SEEK, the nation’s largest summer program geared toward African Americans and other students from groups underrepresented in engineering, will take place beginning in June. The free, three-week program provides hands-on, team-based engineering design activities for students in grades 3–5. The students are guided by mentor-instructors, most of whom are undergraduate members of NSBE.
“With engineering being such a vital part of the world economy, it is crucial that blacks contribute to the diversity in engineering. SEEK is one of NSBE’s most effective tools to show our youth that engineering is a way of life!” said NSBE National Chair Jocelyn Jackson, top-ranking officer of the 24,000-member, student-led organization and an incoming doctoral student in engineering education research at the University of Michigan. “The excitement our students show at the weekly SEEK competitions and the STEM skills they demonstrate when leaving the program are a foundation they can build upon throughout middle school, high school and college during their development into engineers.”
Simone Douglas and her twin brother, Stephan, were among 300 elementary school students who participated in SEEK in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio, in 2008 and 2009. Today, Simone is a mechanical engineering senior at North Carolina A&T State University and a Google “Build Opportunities for Leadership & Development (BOLD)” intern. She is one of many current college students who remember SEEK as an important element of their academic success. Stephan is a civil engineering major at North Carolina A&T and a civil engineering intern at Marathon Petroleum.
“(SEEK) was a ton of fun, and I remember that,” Simone said. “I think the biggest takeaway was working in a team to solve a problem at a young age, with exposure to the bigger picture. It makes you more well-rounded, character-wise, growing up, being able to work together with other people….”
Since its launch in Washington, D.C., in 2007, SEEK has served nearly 23,000 students in 25 cities. The program requires the commitment of the students’ parents or primary caregivers, whose participation has contributed greatly to SEEK’s success. Tests given just before and after the program in 2017 and 2018 showed statistically significant increases in SEEK students’ knowledge of engineering and their ability to see themselves as future engineers.
Strong corporate, government, nonprofit and academic partners have bolstered SEEK and nurtured the program since it was established with a $1-million grant from Battelle in 2007. Major sponsors in recent years have included Bechtel, Chevron, Dow, Ford, GM, Nissan, Northrop Grumman and Shell, among many others. School districts and community organizations across the country host the SEEK programs by providing facilities, meals and medical staff. Research of SEEK is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“Our country has much work to do to reach NSBE’s goal of graduating 10,000 new black engineers annually by 2025, however, the number of African-American engineering graduates has been rising significantly in recent years,” says NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “We believe SEEK is contributing to this positive trend. Giving our youth exposure to science, technology, engineering and math concepts, and engineering role models, is improving the image of engineering and expanding the knowledge of engineering careers in black communities across the country.”
A listing of the SEEK programs for 2019 follows. More information about SEEK is available at www.nsbe.org/seek.
2019 SUMMER ENGINEERING EXPERIENCE FOR KIDS*
Cities Start Date End Date
Atlanta, Ga. (all-girls) June 10 June 28
Birmingham, Ala. June 3 June 21
Chicago, Ill. July 15 Aug. 2
Detroit, Mich. July 15 Aug. 2
Houston, Texas (Site 1) June 10 June 28
Houston, Texas (Site 2) July 8 July 26
Los Angeles, Calif. TBD TBD
Minneapolis, Minn. June 17 July 5
New Orleans, La. June 10 June 28
Oakland, Calif. June 10 June 28
Pittsburgh, Pa. July 15 Aug. 2
Sacramento, Calif. July 15 Aug. 2
Washington, D.C. (all-girls) June 24 July 12
Washington, D.C. (coed) July 22 Aug. 9
*Dates are subject to change.
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.