The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers has its origins in the days before the first meeting of the Society in the spring of 1975. Considering the fact that MIT enrolled fewer African-Americans at that time than the eight percent or so currently matriculating at the institute, and the fact that approximately 85 percent of the total populace studies engineering, it is no surprise that a group of Black students whose objectives would be the recruitment, retention, and successful graduation of minorities in engineering would one day emerge. And so it was.
MIT was one of the 32 schools represented at the first national conference at Purdue University, in the person of James Clark. He, along with Yolanda Hinton '77 SB, '80 SM Course 2, James Hubbard '77 SB, '79 SM, '82 Ph.D. Course 2, Vincent James '78 SB Course 10, William Marable '80 SB/SM, '85 Ph.D. Course 22, Ted Austell '78, Leslye Miller Fraser '78 SB, '80 SM Course 10, and others, were the founding members of NSBE-MIT. Founding member William Marable estimates that the chapter registered no more than thirty members in its beginning.
The chapter "came strong" in its early years. The first Region I chairperson (appointed) was James Clark. James Hubbard was the first person elected to hold the same position at the 1976 national conference (to be followed by Ted Austell). On a chapter level, Bill Marable, the first chairperson of NSBE-MIT, was re-elected for his second and final term. MIT students continued to be involved on both the regional and national levels in future years: the the 1981 National Conference, held in Boston, Massachusetts, was the effort of students mainly from MIT, Northeastern University, and Boston University; Karl Reid, National Chair during the 1984-85 academic year, was an MIT student; Reginald Parker served as PCI coordinator for Regions I, II, and V in 1991-92; MIT students held the position of Region I Vice-Chairperson for at least three consecutive years (Andrew Frazier, Charisse Russell, David Marsh).
The MIghTy MIT Chapter is home to many "firsts" within the society as well. NSBE-MIT hosted the first Region I conference and was among the first to publish a successful newsletter and resume book. But in the last years of the 1980's, the MIT chapter began to suffer. For reasons yet uncovered, participation in all minority organizations at MIT took a drastic turn for the worst. At the end of an approximately three year span, NSBE-MIT was in grave financial debt with a largely uninterested membership. However, as the phoenix rises from the ashes, things began to change. By breathing life into old programs and creating a vast amount of new ones, that executive board led by Darcy Prather (National Member of the Year, 1991) started a progression of events that would return NSBE-MIT to its super-star status, including hosting the 1990 Fall Regional Conference and the New England Zone Emerging Technologies Conference in Spring 1992. The greatest indications of such success are the Chapter Excellence Awards that NSBE-MIT earned "back to back" by being named National Chapter of the Year at the 1992 and 1993 national conventions. The chapter also received recognition from MIT for outstanding service in the form of the Stewart Award.
Current National Stats
275 Collegiate, 75 Alumni Extension, 99 NSBE Jr. Chapters
40+ Conferences Annually
2 National Magazines, 1 Professional Magazine
National Chapter Timeline
—1971: “Chicago Six” founded Purdue Society of Black Engineers
—1974: Society of Black Engineers became national body
—1975: First National Conference was held at Purdue University
—1975: First National Conference
—1975: Attended by 48 students from 32 schools
—1975: National symbol chosen
—1975: Drafted first National Constitution
—1975: Organization divided into 6 regions
—1975: Adopted name National Society of Black Engineers
—1976: NSBE was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Austin, Texas
Region 1 Timeline
—1977: The FIRST Regional Conference was held by Region One at MIT
—1984: The FIRST Regional Leadership Conference was held by Region One at Boston University in 1984.
—1988: Region I Chairperson John Polk initiated the National PCI Program.
—2003: Region I hosted it’s first three day Summer Camping Conference at Adelphi University in Long Island, N.Y.
Region I… “One Fiyah, More Fiyah!”
Northeastern: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire
Affinity Regions: West Africa, East Canada
NSBE Chairperson History
John Cason - First National Chairperson
Virginia Booth - First Female and 2-time National Chair
Dr. Florence Morehead - First Executive Director
Dr. Gary May - Only National Chair with a PhD
Robert S. Bright - First Alumni Extension Chairperson
Today we are the largest student-run organization in the U.S.
NSBE Symbols and Meaning
The Torch: Everlasting burning desire to achieve and develop minority students’ interest and participation in engineering in our present society
The Lightning Bolt: The striking impact that will be felt by society and industry as a result of contributions and achievements made by NSBE