The Kennesaw Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (KSBE) began searching for new outreach ideas in November, 2015. NSBE members from my chapter at KSU and the UGA chapter partnered up to host an event originally intended to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As time went on, we decided to transform the idea into an initiative. It’s name, P.O.W.E.R. stands for “Providing Opportunities Within Everyone’s Reach” and is intended to implement exactly what its namesake claims.
Last April, members from my chapter at Kennesaw State University and members for the University of Georgia Chapter hosted an event at a middle school in Fulton County, GA. It is important to note that my fellow students, colleagues and I were sure to follow the fundamental engineering design process. This process works for any aspect of engineering, including those remotely related to these disciplines of science.
We recognized a PROBLEM: “Students at middle schools and high schools in underprivileged areas are at risk of being unaware or unable to benefit from the many possibilities the world of STEM has to offer.”
After we acknowledge that we must find a solution for that problem, we move to a PLAN of action: “A small group of students will set time aside to coordinate a fun, interactive all day event to expose young minds to various disciplines of engineering and applied sciences.”
The DESIGN portion of our solution was: “To develop a strategy for when, where, how and with who we will implement our solution.” We broke into smaller teams. A few students worked on designing a logo, a few others discussed optimal ideas for experiential learning workshops. I specifically found myself involved in both planning and promoting as I was the Historian Chair at the time (photographer and journalist.) I also expressed interest in leading out in the project wherever my skill set was needed.
Once we were able to BUILD our design and bring it to life, flyers were posted, countless meetings were called to order with the school administration and our committee had countless more conference calls to make sure everything was in place.
We managed to TEST our components by creating a mock schedule. The Event Coordinator implored everyone to arrive two hours before the start of the event. She delegated which committee members would be where and when they should be in place.
To OPTIMIZE our ideas, we placed students where their talents were best fit. I was tasked to lead the Research Show and Tell as well as present a project related to my engineering discipline – Electrical Engineering
Finally, on April 16, 2016 , POWER was a great success. We had a huge turn out and received much positive feedback from our target audience.
The following year, KSBE had a chance to IMPROVE our original idea and a new committee chair was elected, myself – Benjamin Tomlinson. I quickly put together a task force of action-oriented individuals who were willing to dedicate their time to not only making POWER happen again, but to make it better.
This time, we hosted the event on our university’s campus and invited a highschool from Dekalb County, GA. Our committee collaborated with representatives from the univeristy career development office, university competition teams, graduate research students and many other distinguished individuals. I worked with the chapter’s vice president to recruit two outside representatives to offer their talents. One is an Educational Coordinator and the other, a Professional executive from Rocket Science Leadership. I also took the liberty of inviting a close associate of mine who recently graduated from college. This was an easy transition into a talking point on what life is like immediately after college. The kids enjoyed their stay on campus and received a certificate of attendance that I designed with my committee members, signed by me and our Faculty Advisor.
Our Publications Officer was sure to compile a few photos and clips into a short video so that we can reflect on our hard work and of course, make room for next year’s improvement process. I enjoyed both years serving on the POWER committee and plan to take the project to even greater heights. I now serve as President of my chapter and aim to provide a leadership opportunity for anyone else to coordinate POWER 2018.
My goal ? To increase STEM awareness and provide equal opportunities to be apart of engineering on both of our campuses, the Marietta (Engineering) Campus and the Kennesaw (Liberal Arts, Business and Health Sciences) campus. My hope ? That other students will step up in my stead and represent the organization at higher capacities. My plan ? To implement these aspirations into my duties as President and to ultimately fulfill the Society’s mission: “To increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”
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