Encouraging Engineering Diversity in STEM

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) aims to increase minority representation in STEM.

The lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields is an ongoing problem, chiefly centered around the underrepresentation of women and minorities. That’s why many organizations are making efforts to increase diversity in engineering, such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

ENGINEERING.com’s Shawn Wasserman had the opportunity to speak with Monique Mirabeau from the NSBE at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, an event geared toward getting kids and teens interested in STEM and encouraging them to pursue STEM education and careers in the future.

“Diversity is important in the engineering field because our world is changing,” Mirabeau said.  “We’re becoming a more diverse world, and I feel that should be reflected in engineering, not just in the traditional fields people may pursue. And I feel diversity is important in innovation because people have different ideas, and it’s great to capture your whole society, instead of just one segment of it.”

Mirabeau also discussed the challenges of making engineering more diverse. “One hindrance is companies or organizations not participating in the conventions or career fairs of organizations like NSBE or the Professional Society of Hispanic Engineers.”

“One suggestion I would give is that if you do go to a school’s career fair, don’t just have a booth within the career fair, but speak to the student organizations on campus that are geared toward minorities.  You learn more about the organization, and the organization learns more about the student body, also.”

Mirabeau also shared her favorite part of being an engineer:

“I’m a chemical engineer, and I currently work in the environmental civil industry, so I work in wastewater. I focus on large diameter pipes or force mains, and we do inspection and assessment to prevent a major catastrophe with a pipe. It’s important to do assessments, do inspections, to make sure everything is structurally sound, before you have a collapse.”

“So, my favourite part of my job is that each project is completely different from the last,” she continued. “There may be some components that are similar, but when you’re working with pipes each one is different.  It’s just fun,” Mirabeau said.  “I get really involved, I love going to the sites, seeing the locations of the pipes and the different options we have.”

“There are a lot of components that go into making sure that society is safe, that we don’t have a raw sewage spill in the middle of the city.  It’s important; it’s life,” she concluded.

To learn more about STEM and diversity, check out the National Society of Black Engineers or USA Science and Engineering Festival websites.