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New UVI Student Organization to Increase Interest in the Sciences

A new student organization at the University of the Virgin Islands hopes to attract students to study the sciences, specifically engineering. UVI recently reinstated its membership in the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) under the leadership of new faculty member Dr. Wayne Archibald. The mission of the national organization is "to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community." NSBE has more than 30,000 members and is one of the largest student-managed organizations in the country. It is comprised of more than 233 chapters on college and university campuses, 65 alumni extension chapters and 89 pre-college chapters. At UVI, the fledgling group, formed in January, has 22 members. It is based on St. Thomas but has members on both campuses.

"The goal of this organization is to bring the engineering students together to share their experiences so that they can make an easy transition from UVI to any other university without any gaps in their knowledge or experiences," said Dr. Archibald, the group's advisor. Dr. Archibald, a UVI alumnus, joined the faculty in January after earning a Ph.D. in material science and engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, PA.

At UVI, students who want to study engineering declare a major in applied mathematics and join UVI's 3-2 Engineering Program. Through the dual-degree program students spend approximately three years at UVI and two years at a partner institution. At the end of the program, students receive a Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics from UVI and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the affiliated university. Affiliated institutions include Columbia University, Washington University and the University of Florida.

Nine of the UVI-NSBE members will attend the national convention in Toronto, Canada, March 31 to April 4. The convention itself provides tremendous opportunities for its members according to the group's President Mpho Sello. He noted access to scholarships and fellowships, workshops, seminars and the networking opportunities that will be available at the convention. UVI-NSBE's other officers are Vice President Lynesha Sweeney, Treasurer Mustafa Mohammad, Secretary Stella Jarvis and Program Chair Cherise Burton. Along with the officers, members Jamall Marsh, David Mohammed, Dante Morton, Thia Homer and Basil Williams will attend the convention. Members are currently fundraising to defray travel expenses.

Sello said he is determined to meet NSBE's mission. To that end, members are planning outreach activities for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade in the territory. The first public activity, a "Walk for Education," is planned for April.

Dr. Archibald said he hopes to double UVI-NSBE's membership, adding that any student with a 2.5 or higher grade point average, regardless of race, can join NSBE.

The group holds monthly meetings. For information on UVI's chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers, contact advisor Dr. Wayne Archibald at (340)693-1230 or warchib@uvi.edu or President Mpho Sello at mpho_sello@hotmail.com.