A University of Missouri-Rolla electrical engineering student and the director UMR’s Minority Engineering and Science Program (MEP) were honored at the National Society of Black Engineers Region V Fall Conference, held Oct. 31-Nov.2 in St. Louis.
Christian Washington of St. Louis, a senior at UMR and conference chair, received the NSBE’s Esprit de Corps Member of the Year award. The annual award is presented to a person who fulfills the organization’s mission: to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively influence the community.
In addition, Floyd Harris, director of UMR’s MEP, received the NSBE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been involved in UMR’s MEP since its inception in 1974, serving as a counselor until assuming his current position in 1978. For the past 12 years, he has served on NSBE’s regional advisory board.
"Over the years I have received some awards, but to be recognized by your peers and colleagues is one honor to be recognized by your students is just a greater honor," Harris says. "I think that there are probably others that deserve it more but there’s no one who appreciates more."
More than 480 people from 10 states attended the conference, including 40 students from UMR’s NSBE chapter as well as other UMR students and staff. "We also had 20 Normandy High School students and their parents there who are participants in UMR’s Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Program (MESA)," Harris says. In addition, Julie Sibley and Lawrence George represented UMR at the graduate recruitment booth, and the UMR Solar Car Team displayed its solar car in the conference’s new technology exhibit.
Approximately 300 conference attendees participated in "A Walk for Education," held Friday evening. "We passed out information regarding higher education, just encouraging students to go on and pursue higher degrees once they graduate high school," Washington says. "We also wanted to reach parents and adults, to encourage them to go back to school because knowledge is power."
Conference highlights for collegiate members included entrepreneurial workshops, the Academic Tech Bowl, undergraduate technical research displays, and a career and college fair. "We had 28 universities and companies participate in the career and college fair," Washington says. "The Academic Tech Bowl was a ‘battle of the brains’ to see who knew black history, math and science the best."
Events for middle and high school students included a science fair and a tri-mathalon.
"Overall it was a great conference," Washington says. "Students had a good time and were able to mix and mingle with peers across the region but also got the development they needed and wanted."
The NSBE chapters at UMR, Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley hosted the conference. Conference Planning Committee members from UMR included Marnell Berry of Florissant, a junior in electrical engineering; Bryant Lewis of St. Louis, a senior in computer engineering; Mecca Liddell of St. Louis, a graduate student in engineering management; Alexandria Merritt of St. Louis, senior in mechanical engineering; Robert Stewart of St. Louis, a senior in electrical engineering; Washington; and Cornelius Weaver of St. Louis, a sophomore in architectural engineering.