NSBE at MSOE introduces middle school students to engineering
Milwaukee middle school students learned about the impact engineering has on daily life thanks to “Beyond STEM,” a program organized by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Milwaukee Area Professionals Chapter, and MSOE’s collegiate chapter. More than 30 middle school students from Golda Meir School, Metcalfe School, Cass Street School and Fifty-Third Street School, along with practicing engineers and collegiate members of MSOE’s NSBE chapter, gathered for six weeks at MSOE for Beyond STEM.
Tanzania Sewell ’12, an MSOE biomedical engineering alumna and adjunct assistant professor, coordinated the program. “In Milwaukee, there’s a large population of African-American students who don’t matriculate into engineering programs,” said Sewell. “You don’t see a lot of people who look like me in my industry, and I felt like I could have an impact in providing access to programs like this for middle school students.”
During Beyond STEM, students participated in a series of programs featuring hands-on projects while learning about the joys, challenges and societal contributions that characterize four different engineering disciplines. They gained first-hand insight into what it takes to begin and sustain a thriving engineering career.
The first week of the program students learned about the engineering design process, and each subsequent week they focused on a different engineering discipline.
For Imani, a sixth grader at Golda Meir School who wants to be a software designer, the weeks focusing on software engineering were the best. “I’ve been programming for fun at school,” she said. “At MSOE I learned how to develop an app. That was my favorite part of the program.”
Sewell worked with fellow members of the professional NSBE chapter to plan the design challenges and MSOE’s collegiate NSBE chapter helped execute the activities and help the kids through them.
“The volunteers have been tremendous,” said Sewell. “Without them, the program wouldn’t have been possible.”
Other Beyond STEM sessions focused on electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. For one of their final activities, the students designed windmills.
“I live for that moment when something clicks when we’re explaining an engineering topic and they get to the point where they solve the problem,” said Sewell. “The joy on their faces is unexplainable. That makes all the work to get to the Saturday morning programs worth it.”