Members of the National Society of Black Engineers Lehigh chapter, which is celebrating its 40th year in 2024, build connections and professional skills during trip to Atlanta

Both the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Lehigh’s chapter of the organization are marking milestones in 2024. The 50th Annual NSBE Convention was held March 20-24 in Atlanta, and members of Lehigh’s chapter, which is celebrating its 40th year on campus, took part in the experience

Members of the group represented the university in the Boeing Flight Competition, while others took advantage of networking opportunities with engineering professionals and company representatives. Students also engaged in professional development activities, with some even jumping into on-the-spot job interviews.  

The trip was “very inspiring and brought in a new wave of motivation to close out my final semester,” says Papa Kofi Asibuo ’24, a computer science and engineering major and a former marketing chair for the group. “For Black engineers, it’s very common to be the only Black person in our classes. We all experience similar microaggressions, yet sometimes it feels like no one else knows what we’re going through. NSBE gives some reassurance that we’re not alone.”

NSBE, a national organization committed to advancing professionalism among Black engineers and promoting diversity in STEM fields, fills a special role on Lehigh's campus. The student chapter is dedicated to diversifying the community and providing a voice for Black engineers, says industrial and systems engineering major Roman Mitchell ’24, a member of the chapter’s executive board. Through a variety of events, including financial awareness sessions, company visits, technical skill development initiatives, and basketball tournaments, and other social gatherings, he says, Lehigh’s NSBE chapter is working diligently to create opportunities for its members. 

That support isn’t limited to STEM students, says the chapter’s program planner, Fawzi Oladejo ’24, who is studying business information systems in Lehigh’s College of Business with a minor in computer science. “NSBE has become a community for all minorities at Lehigh,” he says. “It’s not just a place for engineers, and that’s how I first got involved in the club. It gives me a sense of belonging.” 

Members of Lehigh NSBE chapter at the national organization's 50th annual conventionThe NSBE Convention holds immense significance for the chapter, says Mitchell, because it provides attendees a rare opportunity to be in a professional space mostly occupied by people of color. “It serves as a platform to celebrate both culture and professionalism,” he says, while “offering valuable networking opportunities that can lead to internships and jobs.” 

Mitchell himself secured a job through networking at a previous convention: “I used the connections I made at NSBE and reached out to many different people that I met until I was able to earn an interview at Capgemini.” He landed a summer internship with the consulting firm and will be pursuing a full-time role as a tech consultant upon graduation. 

Asibou also enjoyed events at the convention focused specifically on graduating seniors that celebrated the progress these students made in their universities. “It just made me feel proud of my achievements because most people from my background don’t make it this far.”

Lehigh has been a consistent supporter of its NSBE chapter, providing funding to ensure students can attend the convention and benefit from the unique opportunities it offers. Students also raised money, selling items like T-shirts, wristbands, and hot chocolate, Mitchell says.

While progress has been made over 40 years of NSBE at Lehigh and the national organization’s half a century, Oladejo says the support and recognition the group provides and its efforts to advance ensuring diversity and inclusion in STEM fields remain essential. With the insights gained and connections made, Lehigh's NSBE members are better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing engineering landscape.

—Mohamed Ndiaye ’24 is a student writer for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science

Lehigh students presented with check at Boeing Flight Competition
Lehigh team wins Presentation and Design Award in 2024 Boeing Flight Competition

For the second year in a row, a team of Lehigh undergraduate engineers took top honors and an $800 prize in the team Presentation and Design category in the Boeing Flight Competition. The event was held in conjunction with the National Society of Black Engineers 50th Annual Convention in Atlanta.

The team (pictured above, from left) consisted of Roman Mitchell ’24 (industrial engineering), Courtney Baker ’27 (mechanical engineering), Zemichael Gebeyehu ‘24 (mechanical engineering), Mika Asfaw ’24 (mechanical engineering).

The award recognizes the team that gave the best 10-minute presentation illustrating their efforts and considerations while designing, building, and testing a Balsa wood glider, according to a set of guidelines. The multimedia presentation included information about the team’s activities as they addressed the various aspects of design and construction. 

“It was a very competitive event and our group thought outside the box and found ways to innovate,” says Mitchell. —M.N.