Local students to participate in NSBE convention

By RON FANFAIR

Scarborough Grade 12 student, Jonelle Dublin, has attended the last two National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) conventions in Orlando and Las Vegas even though she aspires to be a lawyer.

Now that the convention is coming to Toronto, it is a given that she will be in attendance.

Dublin and schoolmate Kirsti Hewson are set to participate in the organization’s 36th annual convention and its first outside the United States next week at the Metro Convention Centre.

Dublin and close to 20 students from Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in Malvern will be active participants in the pre-college initiative conference that’s part of the convention. They will attend workshops and take part in the engineering and design, the science fair and the new Try-Math-a-Lon competitions.

The pre-college initiative is designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“I am certainly looking forward to the event,” said Dublin who is the secretary of her school’s NSBE junior chapter. “The arts are my favourite subjects but I certainly love science. At first, I thought the organization focused on just engineering, but I was very surprised to find out that they prepared young people with the tools to succeed in other careers and in life,” she said.

“There are workshops that deal with public speaking, dress attire for success and networking. And you also get to meet some very bright and interesting young people and professionals.”

Dublin, six of her schoolmates and a few teachers made the approximately 2,564 miles two-way drive to Orlando for the 2008 conference. Last year was the first time she boarded an aircraft and that was to attend the Las Vegas event.

“It was a great experience and I know that the students at my school who are experiencing this for the first time will come away greatly enriched,” she added.

Dublin has entered the science fair competition that introduces students to the scientific method, engages them in problem solving through a variety of approaches, sharpens their writing and preparation skills and allows them to utilize research resources.

“My project has to do with how human intervention affects trees and the national environment,” said Dublin who will attend either the University of Toronto or Ryerson University.

Some students will compete in the Try-Math-A-Lon that will expose them to averages, percentages, ratios, unit conversions, decimals, scientific notation, velocity and acceleration, area and volume calculations and algebraic word problems while others will take part in the engineering design competition that allows students to design and build a prototype model of an existing or potential technical innovation.

The Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School is a member of the NSBE Region One chapter that includes affiliates from New York and New Jersey. In addition to Dublin, the other school executive members are Virturah Wilson (president), Sylvia Kumah (vice-president) and Janielle Clark (treasurer).

Ontario Power Generation has mentored the student participants and provided them with $4,000 for the convention.

Over 8,000 Black engineering professionals and students are expected to converge on the city next week for the convention the theme of which is “Engineering a Global Impact.”

“It is with great pride that we host the convention in Toronto as NSBE recognizes the importance of doing business globally,” said the organization’s national chair Stacyann Russell.

Joseph Banda, the director of strategic partnerships on the convention planning committee, concurred.

“The convention in Toronto is a good thing for NSBE because it legitimizes the organization as a true international entity that cares about engineering a global impact,” he added. “It also creates and increases the global perspective of the membership as we embrace the global community.”

Investor Michael Lee-Chin is the only Canadian keynote speaker at the convention that offers myriad educational, informative and entertaining events. He makes his presentation on the opening night next Wednesday.

The NSBE is one of the largest student-run organizations in the United States with a membership of close to 33,000.

Founded in 1974 by six male members of Purdue University’s Black Society of Engineers, the NSBE established a presence in Canada in 1994 with the formation of the first chapter outside the U.S. at McGill University.

Prior to the establishment of the Canadian chapter, three Canadian students from Windsor and Montreal attended the 1975 NSBE convention.

The conference runs from March 31 to April 4.

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