Minorities are Answer To U.S. Engineer Shortage - The Black Perspective
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Minorities are Answer To U.S. Engineer Shortage

By on June 6, 2013

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)STEM Forum Panels Says 2M Engineers and Computer Scientists Needed in Next Decade

Palo Alto, CA – A prestigious panel of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) thought leaders assembled today at HP headquarters in Palo Alto called the looming shortage of U.S. engineers, the “New” American Dilemma. Business, education, and government leaders in attendance echoed the sentiment, saying it is a national imperative that companies act now to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in STEM fields; otherwise, the nation’s ability to compete globally will be compromised.

The HP/NACME STEM Leadership Forum: Confronting the “New” American Dilemma was convened to discuss the NACME STEM Integration Model and offer solutions aimed at addressing the engineering shortfall facing American companies.

The panel grappled with the reality of the underrepresentation of minorities in science and engineering and conceded that the problem will only get worse if we don’t act now.

“The problem isn’t new, but it is urgent,” says Dr. Irving McPhail, President and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME). Dr. McPhail’s research, the 2011 NACME Data Book, demonstrated the egregiously low number of minorities in high school taking rigorous science, technology, and mathematics courses, making them unprepared to enter college engineering programs.

To frame the dilemma in statistical terms, in 2011, less than 14 percent of all engineering bachelor’s degrees were awarded to URMs, yet they represent 31 percent of the population. By ethnicity, the numbers paint an even grimmer picture. Latinos make up 16 percent of the population, but only 6 percent of the engineers; African American make up 12 percent of the population, but only 5 percent of engineers, and American Indians who are 1 percent of the U.S. population account for only 0.4 percent of all engineers.

“This is clearly a dilemma for U.S. companies, many of whom are looking overseas to fill critical engineering positions,” stated McPhail during remarks at the Forum. “That said, working with business, education, and government leaders here at home we have developed the NACME STEM Integration Model which we strongly believe to be the right solution to confront this problem and will result in better outcomes for URMs.”

The NACME STEM Integration Model provides a pathway through leveraged partnership agreements with negotiated outcomes for students to move along the education to employment continuum – from selected middle and high school programs to community colleges and universities, to on-the-job-experiences at major corporations that, ideally, lead to successful graduation outcomes and entry into the engineering workforce.

NACME and its university and industry partners are convinced this approach will produce more minority engineers to meet the demands of the engineering workforce in the U.S.

Silicon Valley companies like HP agree. HP is amongst the largest technology companies in the world employing over 330,000 people and doing business in more than 200 countries or territories.

Sue Barsamian, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Group Sales, Enterprise Group, HP and a member of the NACME Board of Directors explained, “HP creates technology that positively impacts consumers, governments, and businesses worldwide, and our success relies on a robust workforce of talented engineers. One way we’ve taken action is to invest vice presidents and directors to sit on the advisory boards of Academies of Engineering throughout the United States.”

Academies of Engineering (AOEs) are small learning communities (schools-within-schools) designed to help all high school students – especially women and minorities – focus on careers in the STEM fields. The AOEs, are part of the National Academy Foundation’s (NAF) network of more than 500 career academies nationwide. They use curriculum from Project Lead the Way, prepare students in urban high school districts to enter college engineering programs fully competent in STEM subjects in order to ultimately help meet the increasing demand for a qualified high-tech workforce. NACME partners with academies across the U.S. in cities such as New York, Elizabeth, N.J., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Houston. NACME, NAF, and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) are founding partners in establishing 110 academies of engineering across the nation.

Moderated by Jessica Aguirre, Anchor, NBC Bay Area News, the Forum panel members were:

  • James Plummer, Ph.D., Dean, School of Engineering, Stanford;
  • Theresa A. Maldonado, Ph.D., Division Director, Division of Engineering Education and Centers, Directorate for Engineering, National Science Foundation;
  • Bernadine Chuck Fong, Ph.D., Senior Managing Partner, Community College Programs and National Expansion, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching;
  • Ramon Baez, VP and Global Chief Information Officer, HP;
  • Carl Guardino, President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group; and,
  • Irving Pressley McPhail, Ed.D., President & CEO, NACME.

The STEM Leadership Forum will be followed by an ongoing national discussion at the NACME Symposium in Washington, D.C. later this year. The ultimate goal for NACME and its board member companies is to grow a strong and talented science and technology workforce that looks like America.


Since its inception in 1974, NACME has stayed true to its mission: to ensure American resilience in a flat world by leading and supporting the national effort to expand U.S. capability by increasing the number of successful African American, American Indian, and Latino women and men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.

NACME alumni hold leadership positions in industry, medicine, law, education, and government. With funding from corporate, foundation, and individual donors, NACME has supported more than 22,000 students with more than $124 million in scholarships and other support, and currently has more than 1,300 scholars at 50 partner institutions across the country. The NACME STEM Integration Model Linkage Strategy is being implemented in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and California. The regional model facilitates a comprehensive pathway for underrepresented minorities to engineering careers beginning in middle school. For more information, visit us at www.nacme.org

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