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UT's Academic Tech Bowl team with their trophy

NSBE Chapter Enjoys Regionals, Wins Fourth Straight Academic Tech Bowl

Make it a fourpeat, as in four consecutive wins for the Tickle College of Engineering’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter in the Academic Tech Bowl hosted at the annual Fall Regional Conference (FRC), held in Atlanta.

NSBE members from UT represented the school well and showcased consistent academic excellence within their respective NSBE region. The team consists of these four Engineering Vols from TCE’s NSBE chapter:

  • Victoria Hall, junior in civil engineering and current NSBE Program Chair;
  • Collins Ilechukwu, sophomore in aerospace engineering;
  • DaMya Kelly, sophomore in electrical engineering and current NSBE Academic Excellence Chair;
  • DaMea Kelly, sophomore in chemical engineering and current NSBE Historian;
  • Helena Sanders, senior in nuclear engineering.

“We are proud for this team and what they were able to accomplish at the regional competition,” said TCE Director of Engineering Diversity Programs Travis Griffin. “At the same time, the fact that we have had teams win it four consecutive years shows the knowledge and ability of the students who have been a part of our NSBE chapter at UT and the strength of our program.”

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam and the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) Exam are two common senior engineering standardized tests that cover fundamental engineering concepts.

The goal of the Academic Technical Bowl is to promote academic excellence and demonstrate an understanding of these concepts. Sometimes the terms “Engineer-in-Training” (EIT) and “Surveyor-in-Training” (SIT) examinations” are used incorrectly to describe the FE and FS exams.

Healthy competition in the form of multiple-choice questions is used to encourage program participation, ranging in subject matter from general engineering and science courses from the FE/FS to the history of the NSBE and African American scientists and inventors. Questions are drawn from a well-known standard book.

“My first in-person National Society of Black Engineers Region III Fall Regional Conference was a blast,” said Hall. “I loved networking with companies and students from other schools in the region. Additionally, it was a pleasure being able to participate and continue the winning streak for the UT chapter in Academic Tech Bowl.”

With this win under their belt, the NSBE team has now given themselves the opportunity to compete on a national stage in March at the annual national convention in Kansas City against the winning teams of the five other regions to determine who is the national champion.

Overall Conference Enjoyed by Other NSBE Members

Apart from the Tech Bowl, UT’s other NSBE members enjoyed the regional conference as well.

“I had an amazing time,” said Freshmen Liaison Kala Jordan. “This was my first NSBE conference, so I was curious about what was all in store for the weekend. We had great speakers. I really liked our closing speaker, Patrick Walker-Reese. I also got great experience at the career fair. It was great to be around like-minded people.”

Walker-Reese, a graduate of Tennessee State University, is perhaps best known as the founder of Aspire, which seeks to help people take their dreams and make them into reality.

He is the author of two books, Patfacts Volume 1: From One Dreamer to Another and Patfacts Volume 2: More Than a Dream, which both further aim to produce well-being and social and emotional development.

“Fall regional conference was great all around,” said senior in industrial engineering Hesham Ahmad. “Being in an atmosphere where you’re surrounded by successful professionals that can relate to you on a deeper level was an experience I needed. I was able to learn more about how to develop myself professionally while creating and strengthening meaningful relationships.”

NSBE’s overall theme of the conference and the national one to come later this spring was “I AM STEM,” with STEM in this case taking a different approach than the usual acronym:

  • Succeed professionally—providing the keys to success as a student, professional, or entrepreneur;
  • Tech the future—showcasing technical innovation, certifications, and training;
  • Engage the next generation—establishing a successful pipeline from NSBE Jr. to the professional level;
  • Manage wellness—focusing on overall wellness and sharing the tools to improve mental health and to manage stress.

“I had the idea that FRC was a space where exceptional students gathered to receive internships or co-ops at big corporations, and, knowing my past struggles with engineering, I initially chose not to place myself in this setting because my progress wasn’t exceptional,” said Jetia Porter. “Thankfully, we have advisors who are willing to help navigate our futures as Black engineers. I was encouraged to attend FRC almost at the last minute but I’m glad I did.” Porter added that she enjoyed being able to experience the feeling of pitching her successes to employers, growing relationships with her fellow engineering class, meeting other Black engineers with similar goals, and knowing how to cooperate in a professional setting all while having fun.