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Technical Outreach Community Help: An Engineering Outreach Mentoring Program For Minorities

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Attracting Young MINDS in Engineering - Part II

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1192.1 - 15.1192.9



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Paper Authors

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Lauren Thomas Virginia Tech

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Michael Smith National Society of Black Engineers

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Technical Outreach Community Help: An Engineering Outreach-Mentoring Program For Minorities


Providing exposure, stimulating enthusiasm, training, promoting the value of engineering, and mentoring minority K-12 students, as a means to increasing STEM participation is the primary goal of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Technical Outreach Community Help (TORCH) program. The program has taken advantage of its unique opportunity to increase the number of minority students that are exposed to engineering through an outreach and mentorship model using the face of NSBE’s collegiate and alumni members. Utilization of formal and informal environments, with African American mentors in engineering provides a unique experience for participants to discover the field and explore the disciplines. The combination of mentors who share ethnic background, similar experiences, and the actual content of the program help to diminish the barrier between minority K-12 students and engineering. This paper will cover the design, content, and assessment of the TORCH program, as well as discuss the program’s progress and future.


The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has a mission statement and primary goal to support an increase in black engineers globally and through a student-managed model has maintained a board of directors of college and graduate level engineering students. In 2002, Technical Outreach Community Help, TORCH was formed as an initiative of the board of directors to take the NSBE mission into action by “positively impacting the community” and narrowing the digital divide through service of the organization’s membership. Selection of the learning environment is also key; TORCH experiences take place in various settings including after-school and Saturday programs, at NSBE events, and in community centers, churches, college campuses or even a shopping mall.

Recently, a new structure has been developed for the program to enable members to take their engineering experiences, example, and exposure and put it into community action through the TORCH program. Our program development has lead to the development of five program branches for TORCH: Informal engineering and science, STEM community training, technical expertise services, A Walk for Education (AWFE), and traditional community service activities. STEM community training and informal engineering and science are paramount to this paper for several reasons: both promote the overall goals of the program most directly, involve all aspects of NSBE collegiate, alumni, and pre-college membership base, and will directly influence the increase of African Americans exposed to and prepared for college study in engineering and science1.

Thomas, L., & Smith, M. (2010, June), Technical Outreach Community Help: An Engineering Outreach Mentoring Program For Minorities Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16874

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