Alexandria, Va. — The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) signed a three-year agreement designed to support the two organizations’ mutual goals with regard to increasing diversity in engineering. The agreement outlines collaboration in a number of areas to achieve NSBE’s main strategic goal, which is to lead the U.S. to graduate 10,000 black engineers annually, with bachelor’s degrees, by the year 2025, up from 3,501 in 2014.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by BMES President Lori A. Setton, BMES Executive Director Edward Schilling, NSBE National Chair Matthew C. Nelson and NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. The signing ceremony took place on March 1 at NSBE World Headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

“BMES recognizes that to achieve its own goal to grow a diverse community of engineers, we need a strategy and an experienced and knowledgeable partner,” said Setton, who plans to begin work on the project this year at NSBE’s 43rd Annual Convention, in Kansas City, Mo., on March 29-April 2.

NSBE National Vice Chair Kristopher Rawls, is a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia and a longtime member of BMES. NSBE and BMES leadership kicked off the planning phase of the partnership at NSBE World Headquarters on March 1.

“NSBE is excited to have BMES as a partner to help reach our goal of graduating 10,000 black engineers annually starting in 2025,” said Rawls. “Particularly, we are excited to work together to increase BMES representation within NSBE, which has been a personal goal of mine since I joined NSBE back in 2007. NSBE is also excited to work with BMES on engineering exposure outreach activities through avenues such as NSBE’s Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) as well as activities led by BMES.”

The MOU cites statistics that show the urgent need to increase the representation of black students and professionals in engineering. African Americans, 13.2 percent of the U.S. population in 2015, were only 5.5 percent of the U.S. engineering workforce, 4 percent of the nation’s engineering bachelor’s degree recipients and 2.71 percent of those awarded degrees in bioengineering in the U.S. that year. The agreement calls for collaboration through joint memberships and membership recruitment; engineering education and professional training activities and events; continuing education; research; networking; public outreach and other means.

“BMES is delighted to work alongside influential professional organizations in engineering, to collectively engage, educate and graduate black engineers towards the 2025 goal,” said Setton.