They've recently launched a new initiative to do so, called the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids, also known as SEEK, a program that educates students of color about engineering and makes it fun.
One of the program's mentors, Salange Embaneg, explained the importance of programs like SEEK to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “A lot of black students are long away from engineering because they’re scared of math. Some of them have low self-esteem — they just believe that they can’t do it. Some African American families are low-income and can’t afford to engage children in extracurricular activities, boosting interest in STEM fields."
The innovative camp gives students hands-on experience with machinery and computers and teaches them how to build simple machines in immersive workshops.
“Each week, students work with a different machine and try different activities. Every Friday they have a competition which is usually visited by parents and sponsors,” explained another SEEK mentor, Tichina Tigner.
In 2003, the National Center for Education Statistics did a study on graduation rates of black engineers, and found that only fiver percent of all STEM masters degrees went to black students, while only two percent of STEM doctorates went to black graduates.
The National Society of Black Engineers hopes that SEEK will them change those numbers, and believes that the program could play a major role in helping it to reach its goal of graduating 10,000 black engineers by 2025.
Initial results are promising.
“I want to be an engineer too. I love creating things,” 11-year-old Mackenzie Tucker said as her and fellow classmates tested their gravity cruiser, a vehicle whose power is generated by weights and a pulley system. The cruiser was developed by Tucker and a team of African American girls in the program.
“This camp makes engineering fun. At school, we learn similar stuff, but not in the same way. The school teacher never lets us go this far,” another student said.
Currently, there are only 16 SEEK programs in the United States. Though it is too late to register for this summer, registration for summer 2018 will open in January.