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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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NSBE members Abel Napoleon, Abi Daniel, Aquin Manners, Miles Gordon pose outside the College of Engineering at SDSU. NSBE members Abel Napoleon, Abi Daniel, Aquin Manners, Miles Gordon pose outside the College of Engineering at SDSU.

SDSU Student Organization Launches Next Generation of Black Engineers

NSBE SDSU serves as a launching pad to a successful career for countless Black engineering students at SDSU.
By Melinda Sevilla

Abi Daniel, a San Diego State University mechanical engineering student, volunteered to set up tables for a career fair on campus. He walked away from the event with a coveted internship at Collins Aerospace, a global leader in aerospace technology and defense. 

“I didn’t even know Collins Aerospace hired mechanical engineers until they spoke at one of our professional development panels,” said Daniel, president of SDSU’s student-governed chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

With more than 24,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE offers a vast network of support to connect collegiate and precollegiate Black students to engineering and technology professionals. Connections like these can last a lifetime and launch exceptional careers.

“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to network with these companies and professionals without NSBE,” said Napoleon. 

Networking opportunities can be hard to find for Black engineering students. In 2018, just 4.6% of engineering degrees were earned by Black students, according to a report from the American Society for Engineering Education.

NSBE aims to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community. “Black engineers are not always apparent to see. We want to provide resources and connections for Black engineers to benefit from,” said Daniel, president of NSBE SDSU.

Abel Napoleon, a senior in mechanical engineering and leader in NSBE SDSU, secured an internship with Solar Turbines at the same Engineers Giving Opportunities Career Fair, an annual NSBE SDSU event with high-profile sponsors such as Dexcom and Qualcomm. 

“They’re looking for young, bright students and our students are the new talent they’re looking for. It’s mutually beneficial,” said Aquin Manners, mechanical engineering senior and vice president of NSBE SDSU.

With resume workshops, mentorship programs, and a wide range of opportunities, NSBE SDSU serves as a launching pad to a successful career for countless Black engineering students at SDSU.

Earlier this month, the club attended NSBE’s Black History Month Professional Mixer, hosted by the NSBE Professional Chapter of San Diego. Students networked with San Diego-based Black engineering professionals and listened to panels on topics such as racial injustice, building generational wealth, and mental health in the workplace. 

“The event gave me the feeling that I got when I attended my first NSBE SDSU meeting: just this overwhelming sense of inspiration,” said Daniel.

The event was put on by Aztec alumnus Jayton Harps (‘13, computer science) a software integration engineer at Northrop Grumman and current president of San Diego’s NSBE Professional Chapter. He explained that he too benefited from NSBE SDSU. 

“I didn’t really know what Engineering was until I met NSBE,” said Harps. “I gained those leadership skills through their events and was able to refine my resume and network with incredible people and companies.”

Harps recalls his difficult class load and how being part of a supportive network helped him then and now. “Becoming a STEM professional, you can’t go through it alone. You’re going to need someone to talk to, who understands where you’re coming from… and believes in you,” said Harps. 

The domino effect of giving back continues in the current senior class of NSBE students, who pay it forward through community events and paving the way for future Black engineers at SDSU: Daniel said he wants to inspire young first-year and sophomore students “by leading by example, to plant those seeds.” 

Harps’ advice for up and coming young, Black aspiring engineers: Know your worth. 

“We come from a history of entrepreneurs, of thought leaders,” said Harps. “We built the pyramids. We can’t forget our history and what we’ve accomplished. Engineering is in our blood.” 

As for the future, Harps said he’ll continue supporting Aztec students with their future endeavors in the engineering field. 

“I bleed black and red. That’s why I keep giving back. It just means a lot to me.” 
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Black Resource Center’s 4th Birthday
Monday, February 28 | Noon – 2 p.m.
Celebrate the fourth year of the establishment of the Black Resource Center and its impact and contribution to Black students at SDSU. For more information on Black History Month programming, visit the Black Resource Center website and follow the center on Instagram @sdsubrc.