University of Toronto

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

U of T's National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Wins Remarkable Award

This past month, the U of T Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) received the 2010 International Pioneer Chapter of the Year Award from NSBE’s National Executive Board and International Committee. Considering NSBE is the largest student-run organization in the world with over 30, 000 members worldwide, this is a truly remarkable achievement. Out-going President Andrew Forde (MSE) and incoming President Mikhail Burke (MSE) discussed the significance of this award and the importance of diversity within the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

U of T’s NSBE wins remarkable award
Members of U of T Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, 2010.

Q. How does it feel to receive the 2010 International Pioneer Chapter of the Year Award?
Andrew Forde: It's a very humbling, yet rewarding feeling to know that the work we've done has not gone unnoticed. Accolades, however wonderful a feeling, are not a real representation of our impact. The lives that we improve, that’s where the real reward resides. The benefit of this recognition is that we'll be able to further enrich our program here at the University of Toronto.

Q. What are some of the efforts that NSBE has been involved with to earn this award?
Andrew Forde: We've hosted a multitude of professional development workshops for our undergraduate members, formulated and hosted conferences for high school students, made countless high school visits, created mentorship programs between engineers working in the industry with our members, delivered tutoring programs, and are proud to unveil our newest addition – which is an interactive engineering summer camp for underprivileged children.

Q. What will be the impact of this award on the U of T chapter?
Andrew Forde: The impact of the award will be global. It will spread the U of T brand of excellence throughout the global NSBE membership, as well as endow us with a monetary award which can be used to further our success. 

Q. How might the funds be spent?
Mikhail Burke: NSBE created what is known as the TORCH program. The TORCH program is an integral part of the NSBE initiative to “increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” By teaching community youth the basics about science in a fun and interactive way, we hope to plant the seeds of interest that will lead them to choose an engineering or science program here.

This year, we wish to transform the TORCH initiative into a science camp called ENGAGE (see related article). By reconfiguring the program to be an affordable summer camp, we hope to encourage the youth of the community to have fun and enjoy themselves while learning about engineering and science fundamentals. The monetary component of the 2010 International Pioneer Chapter of the Year Award will be used to help cover the start-up and operational costs of the camp.

Q. What are some of your plans for the future?
Mikhail Burke: We hope to offer some new services such as study sessions, study guides and textbook rentals. In addition, we hope to work in collaboration with other student groups in order to build better ties with students, gain new perspectives and enhance each of our member’s understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

Q. What does diversity within the Faculty mean to the NSBE U of T chapter? And why is it      important?
Andrew Forde: Diversity within the Faculty means allowing people from all walks of life, representing all creeds, a chance to bring about their uniqueness in an engineering setting and beyond. It is extremely important to allow differences to bring about greatness. Individuals with different ideologies and experiences bring very specialized solutions. This range of potential answers creates a wealth of talent that can be used to better humankind on any level. That is part of the blessing of being an engineer. You are able to lead change.
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