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Sunday, April 5, 2020

National Society of Black Engineers prepares to host their first Medical Engineering Competition at Western

Illustration by Cole Sandhofer

By Tyreke Wilbanks

Western’s National Society for Black Engineers chapter is preparing to host the Medical Engineering Competition on May 17, 2019.

According to Hannah Okotcha, public relations officer for Western’s NSBE, and Selome Zerai, president for Western’s NSBE, this will be the first competition that Western’s NSBE has hosted. The team-based competition will take place in the Viking Union and will be open to Western students. To participate, each team will work together to solve a problem and then present their work to a panel of judges.

Western’s NSBE chapter was established at the end of winter quarter 2018. The club was founded by Zerai, Okotcha and vice president Ayisha Olanrewaju.

Zerai, Olanrewaju, and Okotcha drew inspiration for the club from all the chapters around Washington state, and felt that Western students could use the support in order to be successful in science, technology, engineering and math majors.

“STEM on campus is hard and it’s a lot harder when you’re a person of color. A lot of schools in Washington have one, I thought Western should have one,” Zerai said.

According to Zerai and Okotcha, Western’s NSBE is a place for students to have somewhere to talk about engineering and also see other students that look like them and that are interested in the same things.

“For our recurring members it’s a nice place to see familiar faces and see people that look like you,” Okotcha said.

According to Zerai and Okotcha, the chapter also helps support students in school with studying. Members of Western’s NSBE want to help students be the best that they can be and be the best students they possibly can. They want to make sure students get support during their college experience especially if they are a first generation student or a student that doesn’t know how to manage college well.

“[NSBE] helps that bridge between highschool and college, especially if you’re a first [generation] or not really familiar with the whole college process. We try to help you with registration, how to be a STEM student, how to study, and how to be a student overall,” Zerai said.

According to Okotcha, Western’s NSBE hopes to grow through the competition and invite more people from around the area, as well as spread awareness around campus of who they are and what they do. Zerai, said the society also hopes that people participating in the competition have fun and will want to come back to future events.

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