The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has announced the national kickoff of its annual Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) program this year, on July 20. SEEK, now in its 14th year, is the United States’ largest summer engineering program geared toward African-American and other elementary school students from groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). SEEK is designed to: expose children to basic STEM concepts; establish a foundation of STEM knowledge and experience the students can build upon in middle school, high school and college; and, ultimately, increase the number of Black professionals in engineering.
 
Since its launch in Washington, D.C., in 2007, SEEK has served nearly 23,000 3rd–5th graders in 30 cities across the country. This year, for the first time, SEEK’s three weeks of activities will be virtual rather than in-person, because of safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The free program’s hands-on, team-based engineering design challenges for its young students will be delivered remotely using digital media and information technology.
 
“The dual crises that we’re living through — COVID-19 and overt racism — have put a spotlight on STEM and diversity, and I am very pleased that NSBE will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on both again this year, through SEEK,” said NSBE National Chair Jocelyn Jackson, the organization’s top-ranking officer. “We look forward to reaching the young people in our program with virtual curricula that inspire them to join the next generation of engineers.”
 
Key features of SEEK are parental involvement and the program’s mentor/instructors. The mentor/instructors, most of whom are engineering majors and collegiate members of NSBE, guide the elementary school students through the curriculum and serve as role models for Black children who often lack that important advantage in pursuing STEM careers. SEEK’s programmatic model has been proven effective, as its young alumni have demonstrated increased proficiency in math, science and engineering, and a greater ability to envision themselves as future engineers.
 
 
 
 
 
Substantial corporate, government, nonprofit and academic partnerships have supported SEEK since the program was established with a $1-million grant from Battelle in 2007. Major SEEK sponsors have included Bechtel, Chevron Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, GM, Nissan, Northrop Grumman and Shell, among many others. The National Science Foundation has funded research of SEEK.
 
“Challenging times call for innovation, and I am grateful that NSBE’s leadership and NSBE’s supporters have been up to the task of innovation in engineering education,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “The progress toward NSBE’s ‘10K Goal’ continues, as the U.S. has crossed the 5,000 mark on its way to graduation of 10,000 Black bachelor’s degree recipients in engineering annually, by 2025,” Dr. Reid continued. “The advancement of Black communities and the prosperity of the nation depend on the success of strong partnerships involved in creating and implementing programs such as SEEK. With this new virtual offering, in partnership with our innovative investors, we now have the potential of serving tens of thousands of children in the future! That’ll certainly change the face of engineering in the U.S. and abroad!”
 
 
ABOUT NSBE
With more than 600 chapters and more than 24,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. NSBE, founded in 1975, 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 professionally and positively impact the community.” For more information, visit www.nsbe.org.
 
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