Celebrating Black History

Indy program prepares students to train as engineers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Since 1986, the Minority Engineering Program of Indianapolis has been doing it’s part to train the world’s next batch of engineers.

Black people make up about 5% of the science and engineering jobs according to the National Science Foundation. With technology continuing to grow, these are the kinds of jobs that’ll always need filling.

Science, technology, engineering and math are a few of the things that keep the world moving forward and it takes skill to make sure that happens.

“We have a niche in this world. And the sooner you can understand what you’re good at you can begin to pursue it,” said William Scott, president of the program.

It’s an industry dominated by white men, and it’s been that way for a while. A lot of that doesn’t stem from ability, but exposure and the knowledge that it’s an attainable goal.

“Part of what drives me in terms of my passion for it is I want to be able to share and show the students professionals who look like them,” Scott said.

Jalen Rice and Karen Hubbard are alumni of the engineering program. Their road to engineering was different, but they say their passion for the work grew in the program.

Rice’s dad was an engineer, but a childhood family trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see rockets solidified his desire to do this work.

“From middle school up through high school, I was one of very few African-Americans,” Rice said. “I was the only African-American that was interested in engineering so to me it seem like I was the only one out.”

Hubbard’s story was a bit different. With no engineers or doctors in her immediate family, her introduction to engineering came from outside sources.

“The importance of these agencies is not only for representation but to kind of encourage you and remind you that there are people out there who look like you,” she said.

Both Rice and Hubbard said they at times struggled with math but eventually got the hang of it with hard work and support.

“I would definitely say that programs like these are really important,” Hubbard said.

“I would say they’re pretty important just to show that we kind of exist.” Rice said.

There are about 150 students in the program. The board recently met to develop ways to expand the program to reach even more students.