Ignite, Imagine, Innovate: U of T Engineering hosts NSBE Conference

NSBE Conference
Back row, left to right: Elizabeth Njambi; Kyra Stephen (NSBE U of T Chapter – Promotions Chair); Portia Deterville (NSBE East Canada Zone Chair); Larisse Nana Kouadjo, P. Eng, PMP (Project Manager at WSP); Njeri Fraser (NSBE East Canada Zone PCI Chair); Yourdanos Tsegay (NSBE East Canada Zone Professionals Chair); Nicole Deterville (NSBE East Canada Zone Secretary). Front row: Chiora Mba-Uzoukwu (NSBE U of T Chapter – PCI Chair). (Photo: Kyle Coulter)

On February 24, 2018, U of T Engineering hosted three chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) for the group’s NSBE Region 1 East Canada Zone conference.

Forty-nine high school students, university students and young professionals came together for panel discussions, career development workshops and networking sessions focused on NSBE’s mission “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

“The day exceeded my expectations,” said Nicole Deterville (Year 3 ChemE + PEY), East Canada Zone secretary for NSBE U of T and co-organizer of the conference. “We were able to run workshops for both high school and collegiate students that allowed them to learn more about engineering and the steps they needed to take for their future, whether it was applying for university or landing their first job. The collegiate and professionals in attendance were able to indulge in deep conversation during our panel discussion on the topic of ‘Diversity and Inclusion,’ which many noted as being the highlight of the event.”

The conference also included many hands-on activities that explore a wide range of engineering topics led by the U of T Engineering Outreach team, aimed at inspiring high school students to consider pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the post-secondary level.

“Our students loved being there and learned quite a bit,” said Richard Babb, a teacher at Strong Academy, a summer program designed to mobilize and equip young Black boys with the tools necessary to achieve their maximum potential in education and build on life skills. “As we know with young people, exposure and experiential learning is key. Thanks to everyone for reaching out, and for hosting this event.”

Portia Deterville (Year 3 ChemE + PEY), East Canada Zone chair for NSBE’s U of T chapter and conference co-organizer, said the conference has made her more confident about the future. “I truly do believe that building a strong foundation of individuals who are passionate about upholding NSBE’s mission is what will allow us to grow as an organization in Canada,” she said. “It was heartwarming to see how many of the individuals that attended the conference shared this vision.”

NSBE’s U of T chapter will also be sending 12 delegates to the organization’s 44th Annual Convention, NSBE44, running March 21 to 25, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pa. The premier conference for Black STEM talent, NSBE44 aims to equip students, technologists and professional engineers with the tools and relationships to advance their education or careers.