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Favour Nerrise: Strengthening the Number of Black Engineering Students and Professionals

Favour Nerrise: Strengthening the Number of Black Engineering Students and Professionals

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on changemaking leaders who are helping to make the world a better place! I have a great interview to get your week started off right. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Favour Nerrise, the national chairperson of the National Society of Black Engineers. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Favour! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?

Favour: Happy to be with you, Spiffy! At the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), we aim to develop a community of brilliant engineers, thought leaders, and problem solvers. We target three main populations: pre-collegiate students, collegiate students, and professionals. We offer a wide range of resources for academic support, professional development, and mentorship. We also partner with community members, global organizations, and policy advocates to increase the number of Black engineering students and professionals.

Spiffy: Awesome! What motivated you to tackle this challenge?

Favour: I started doing robotics competitions when I was ten years old after joining a local, pre-collegiate chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. At the time, I simply wanted to find a group of kids like me who loved building things for fun. Twelve years later, I am proud to have found that group, one I now call a family. This organization has been instrumental in helping me discover who I am and what my purpose is. I hope to help many others find the same.

Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?

Favour: The National Society of Black Engineers is home to over 15,000 Black engineering students and professionals worldwide. We have served households, communities, and nations for almost 50 years by responding to critical needs such as providing relief during the Haiti earthquake, to social justice efforts such as revising the California K-12 Math Curriculum, and to public policy imperatives in STEM education through numerous research initiatives with sister and ally organizations.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone by your organization. What impact does that make? 

Favour: NSBE was recently featured in STEM Magazine’s August issue, which holds viewership in 71 countries and 47 States. The article focused on our pre-collegiate (grades 3-12) students, who comprise over 300 chapters as part of our Pre-College Initiative (PCI) programming. Through PCI programs like Engineering Tomorrow, Beats Unlocked by Facebook, competitions, and our signature SEEK summer camp, we provide year-round resources to engage and develop the next generation of engineers.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Favour: NSBE follows a ten-year strategic plan called GameChange2025. Within this vision, we follow a charge to produce 10,000 Black engineering graduates annually by 2025. To achieve this, we are committed to finding the best ways to recruit, support, and retain youth who are interested in STEM education. Engineering is a useful foundation that can be applied to any discipline or career, and we aim to show students and professionals across the world the endless opportunities possible. 

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Favour—it’s been an honor!

Favour Nerrise is a second-year electrical engineering doctoral student at Stanford University. She conducts research in neuroengineering and deep learning. Favour is currently serving her second term as the national chairperson for the National Society of Black Engineers. For fun, she mentors youth, travels avidly, and learns new languages. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 17, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.