In 1971, two Purdue undergraduate students, Edward Barnette and Fred Cooper approached the dean of engineering at Purdue University with the concept of starting the Black Society of Engineers (BSE). They wanted to establish a student organization to help improve the recruitment and retention of black engineering students. In the late 1960's, a devastating 80 percent of the black freshmen entering the engineering program dropped out. The dean agreed to the idea and assigned the only black faculty member on staff, Arthur J. Bond, as advisor.
Encouraged by their on-campus success, Anthony Harris, president of the Purdue chapter, wrote a letter to the presidents and deans of every accredited engineering program in the country (288), explained the Society of Black Engineers (SBE) concept and asked them to identify black student leaders, organizations and faculty members who might support their efforts on a national basis. Approximately 80 schools responded. Many had similar Black student organizations with similar objectives. A date was set for the first national meeting and 48 students representing 32 schools attended the event, held April 10-12, 1975. Harris also changed the organizations' nomenclature from the BSE to the Society of Black Engineers (SBE).
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), with more than 29,900 members, is one of the largest student-governed organizations in the country. NSBE now includes more than 394 College, Pre-College, and Technical Professional/Alumni chapters in the United States and abroad. NSBE’s mission is "to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community."
We as a Pitt NSBE chapter strive to incorporate the national and regional directives as follows:
National Directives: i. Empower Improvement ii. Application through Data Visualization iii. Mobilize Engineering Exposure Army Regional Directives: i. Clarity ii. Cultivate iii. Culture