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Integration Outcomes and Cultural Capital in a NSBE Chapter

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track: Special Topic - Student Organizations Technical Session 13

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Special Topic: Student Organizations

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Paper Authors


Tasha Zephirin Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Tasha Zephirin is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is an Executive Assistant for the National Association of Multicultural Program Advocates (NAMEPA) Inc. and has served as the Graduate Student Representative on the Purdue Engineering Advisory Council. Her research interests include exploring the role of noncurricular engineering education initiatives in the engineering experience, especially within and across cultural boundaries. Through this research, she aims to inform the development and evaluation of these initiatives in a variety of contexts.

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Keywords: Undergraduate, Graduate, Race/Ethnicity, Engineering

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is a cultural engineering student organization that by its mission aims to “increase the number of Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.” Recent studies of local NSBE Chapters at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) shows that participation in NSBE can positively impact academic outcomes such as graduation rates for Black engineering student members. However, qualitative investigations of the chapter experience are needed to unpack how and why participation in the chapter has the effects it does. This work presents preliminary findings drawn from the analysis of seven interviews from a broader qualitative case study that explores how participation in a local chapter of NSBE at a PWI provides co-curricular support for engineering students. Interview participants have varying levels of involvement within NSBE as general members and leaders and represent underclassman, upperclassman, graduate student, alumni, and faculty/staff perspectives. The analysis of interviews focused on how the chapter supports students’ integration into academic, social, professional, and university systems, and how students have leveraged cultural capital through participation in the chapter. The interaction between integration outcomes and cultural capital helps to explain how a NSBE chapter provides a community of support towards the fulfillment of the NSBE mission. Also, insights about what the mission means to participants and how they internalize the mission in their lives as engineering students and professionals will be shared.

This work will be of interest to NSBE members, engineering education researchers, diversity program administrators (e.g., MEP), faculty, and other student affairs professionals that engage with NSBE and other cultural engineering student organization chapters (e.g., SHPE, MAES, AISES). Results provide insights into the role of these chapters in the engineering education experience of students and implications for inclusion in engineering education contexts.

Zephirin, T. (2019, April), Integration Outcomes and Cultural Capital in a NSBE Chapter Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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