February 11, 2003

Black Engineers Build Entrepreneurial Future

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Members of the National Society of Black Engineers met yesterday afternoon in Olin Hall for an information session presented by retired Prof. Alfred Phillips Jr., electrical computer engineering.

The presentation consisted mainly of a proposal for the implementation of a new program that seeks to increase the number of minority entrepreneurial engineers around the world.

“Basically, the idea is that entrepreneurial engineering would enable people that have been harmed significantly during the formation of the United States to form technical businesses in their own communities,” said Phillips.

Thus, the program would encourage existing minority engineers to start businesses and consequently, create jobs in their communities.

A second aspect of the program is intended to aid struggling minority engineers by providing them with opportunities to “take a course until they pass,” Phillips said. The financial burden of this system would be placed on the university. “This money would be provided as reparation for the enslavement of the African people and genocide to the native people of Africa,” Phillips added.

“The wealth of Africa was stolen; entrepreneurial engineering will enable Africans to own the wealth of Africa once again,” Phillips said. Successful entrepreneurs would then give back to the university, according to Phillips.

At the end of Philip’s information session, Phillips requested that students engage in two activities: arrange a meeting with both W. Kent Fuchs, dean of the College of Engineering and President-elect Jeff Lehman ’77 to discuss entrepreneurial engineering. Afterwards, students were encouraged to ask questions and express their thoughts concerning the proposal.

“The only part of the proposal I was against is [the idea] that you should only empower through silence,” said Amanda Johnson ’04, in response to Phillip’s suggestion that empowerment of minorities should not come through protest but rather entirely through study.

Alex Bess ’04, on the other hand, supported the proposal, saying, “I do not believe there is any problem with entrepreneurial engineering … it will help build a group’s wealth.” Bess did, however, express his understanding of the skepticism certain students felt towards the proposal. “It is a very new idea, and that always creates skepticism in a group,” Bess said.

After the meeting, Anjoli Avionn ’04, president of the National Society of Black Engineers and event organizer , expressed her thoughts on the impact of the session. “[The meeting] brought up view points from our members concerning the proposal of entrepreneurial engineering,” said Avionn. “Our mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community and this meeting put forth a proposal that could very well help achieve our goal.”

Phillips then shared his view of the meeting. “I saw this meeting as a chance to present to students a proposal, to get their feedback before presenting it to Lehman and Fuchs,” he said. In the near future, “a subset of students will revise the proposal, and then present it to the university,” Phillips added.

Archived article by David Andrade