While more underrepresented students are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, one group has yet to experience these gains. STEM undergraduate degrees for African-American men have basically remained flat for the past nine years.
Attracting this demographic is essential to maintaining America’s position as a leader in technology innovation, said Gary May, dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.
May hosted two roundtable discussions in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to confront the challenges facing this issue and celebrate the success stories that receive too little attention.
“It’s a grand challenge, but we know how to solve it,” May said, noting that one out of every 10 African-American engineers with a Ph.D. graduated from Georgia Tech.
A luncheon roundtable, held on Capitol Hill, attracted Congressional staffers, representatives from national associations and others from the D.C. policy community.
During the evening roundtable held at the National Press Club, reporters from Politico and U.S. News & World Report asked questions and helped guide the conversation.
At both events, panelists shared how they overcame obstacles in their careers. They spoke of the importance of mentors, the need to make K-12 lessons in STEM more hands-on and relevant to students and the role parents, corporations and nonprofits must play.
Joining May on the panels were: Rodney Adkins, former senior vice president of IBM and a Georgia Tech alumnus; Reginald DesRoches, Karen and John Huff School Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech; Jeremy Feaster, Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at Stanford University; Darryll Pines, dean of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland; Guy Primus, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Virtual Reality Company; Karl Reid, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers; Cedric Stallworth, assistant dean for outreach, enrollment and community for the College of Computing at Georgia Tech; John Silvanus Wilson Jr., president of Morehouse College; and Kyle Woumn, computer science major at Georgia Tech.
The Institute’s roundtable initiative brings together thought leaders from different organizations to discuss important issues. Last year, Georgia Tech held a similar roundtable examining how to attract more female engineers.
The roundtables are an example of a collaborative effort between different units. The African-American Men in STEM event was a partnership between Georgia Tech’s Office of Government and Community Relations, College of Engineering, Office of Development and Institute Communications.
Georgia Tech Media Relations
Last revised May 15, 2020