Student organization supports Black engineers and gives back to the community

Contact: Lindsey Haehnel
NSBE students at passport day 2023

Leroy Collins IV, B.S.23', and College of Engineering and Applied Sciences student Madision Price-Yancy host a table to introduce NSBE to incoming students during 2023 Fall Welcome's Pasport Day.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is home to more than 300 registered student organizations (RSOs) that include members with various  backgrounds, interests and goals. RSOs help accelerate learning beyond the classroom, prepare students for their careers, as well as help members network socially and professionally.

More than 20 of these RSOs are at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and they range from groups focused on space exploration and building satellites to designing and building cars to race against other universities. WMU’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of these RSOs, and members say it's had a profound impact on them during their college career at WMU.

“I became a member of NSBE because of the opportunity to meet amazing people who can teach me a lot about professional development and get involved with making a difference in the community,” says Leroy Collins IV, B.S.‘23, who graduated with his degree in mechanical engineering last fall and continues this semester to serve as the vice president for WMU’s NSBE chapter. Between networking for both careers and companionship, the culture NSBE provides is essential to students, especially while pursuing rigorous degrees within the STEM fields.

NSBE was originally formed in 1974 at Purdue University’s College of Engineering and has since grown to have over 600 chapters and 24,000 members worldwide. Each one committed to NSBE’s mission “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

Being involved in the local communities is a main priority of NSBE. With programs such as Technical Outreach Community Help (TORCH), the Community Improvement Initiative (CII), the Pre-College Initiative (PCI) and more, NSBE is working to increase the resources available for young engineers. It is actually NSBE Jr., a K-12 program, that introduced the president of WMU’s NSBE chapter, Madison Price-Yancy, to the organization.

“I was a NSBE Jr. in middle school and in high school as well. I attended a STEM school in Detroit, and my teacher approached me about it,” explains Price-Yancy. “NSBE has always held a special place in my heart.”

WMU’s NSBE chapter has made a lasting impact in the Kalamazoo community by hosting outreach events with local schools inspiring students to pursue careers in engineering and the applied sciences. NSBE lives by their mission statement and nurtures that kind of support from such a young age and beyond the classroom experience. Community outreach events were some of Collins’ highlights as a member of NSBE.

“One of my favorite moments was being able to visit Hillside Middle School (Kalamazoo) every other Saturday and exposing the middle schoolers to STEM through interesting projects such as building mouse trap cars and pyramids out of popsicle sticks,” says Collins.

Price-Yancy says there are times when she is the only female or Black student in a class. She has found a sense of belonging in her RSO and and emphasizes the need for student organizations such as NSBE help bring people with common experiences in the community together to feel empowered to achieve their goals. "NSBE has helped me meet people that have the same experiences and assure me that I have people around me rooting for me to succeed."

NSBE will be hosting its 50th annual convention March 20 to 24 in Atlanta, where members will elect national and regional leaders, hold competitions, provide professional and personal development, and host networking and celebratory activities. Price-Yancy has attended several national NSBE events throughout her time at Western and enjoys every opportunity they provide. It is through events such as this that NSBE best supports and promotes the aspirations of students and technical professionals in engineering and technology.

“The conference has many professional development and academic workshops, and they also have a huge career fair,” explains Price-Yancy. “Last year I received my first internship through the career fair at this convention.”

Collins also landed an internship during his undergraduate studies with FEMA Corporation where he began working full-time after graduating. In his current role as test engineer, Collins develops various test methods and summary reports as well as assists other engineers in reliability analysis and accelerated testing.

“After this semester I will step more into an advisory role for the leaders in NSBE as I have gained a lot of leadership skills and want future members to also have that experience,” says Collins.

Price-Yancy and Collins say they have enjoyed their RSO experience and encourage all incoming students to connect with the one that’s right for them.

“Join an RSO and don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone,” says Collins. 

Learn more about registered student organizations at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.