Group encourages blacks to become, and remain, engineers Engineering a strategy for growth Tuesday, March 14, 2006 By Corilyn Shropshire, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette John Beale, Post-Gazette Carl Mack, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers, speaks to reporters yesterday about his group's upcoming convention March 29 to April 2 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Click photo for larger image. If the large percentages of black children dropping out of high school continues, the number of African-American engineers in the United States -- already small -- could shrink to nothing, a trade group warned yesterday. "We're no different than dinosaurs looking at a meteor heading right toward us -- because we're headed to our own extinction," warned Carl Mack, executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Mr. Mack, speaking to reporters at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to promote the group's annual conference to be held here late this month, blamed the low numbers of black students pursuing engineering degrees or dropping out altogether on teachers who, untrained in teaching math and science, don't make it enjoyable subject matter. He also cited the absence of strong mentors and visible examples of successful black engineers. Blacks received 3,276, or about 5.2 percent, of the engineering degrees earned in the United States in 2002, the most recent year for which numbers are available, and compose about 6.2 percent of the science, technology and engineering work force, said Eric Addison, managing editor of NSBE magazine. Moreover, blacks only make up about 36,000, or 2.6 percent, of the 1.4 million working engineers in the United States -- even though blacks represent roughly 12 percent of the overall population. "We haven't seen any evidence of a major gain in the numbers of black engineers," Mr. Addison said. That, coupled with the recent reports, such as one published this month for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that said half of black students do not finish high school, is a death knell for the future of black engineers in the United States, Mr. Mack said. "It's impossible to think that NSBE will exist with the devastation we see in K-12," Mr. Mack said. His organization, which has 17,000 members, the majority of them engineering students, is working to steer more young adults into the professional field and to help those already there. Black engineers must step in where educators and parents, ill-equipped to help children with math and science course work, have fallen short, Mr. Mack said. The group spent $250,000 last year to launch an online tutoring program for students in kindergarten through high school who need math and science homework assistance. The program, he said, was open to elementary and secondary school students who pay NSBE's $5 membership fee. NSBE also is developing a summer program that will focus on immersing third- through fifth-graders in math and science, he said. "There's a lot of problems that we see, and we think that the NSBE can be a solution to that," Mr. Mack said. NSBE's annual conference will be held March 29 through April 2 at the convention center. About 12,000 students and technical professional are expected to attend, which Mr. Mack estimated could generate tens of millions in conference and tourism revenue for Pittsburgh. Dont trust this Bill Gates advice with your children about hopelessness of black school children. Black engineer based on NSBE is suggested to be more equipped with not only enginneering skills but a strong social skill than lets say your easy going hippie ruthless white engineering degreed man counterpart. Has NSBE become a special interest themselves? The majority of NSBE membership are students not professionals, Very strange indeed.