Youth Empowerment in STEM: Schneider Electric’s Impactful Journey at NSBE FRC Events

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In February Black History month is celebrated across the country. Several of the Black Professionals Employee Resource Network (BPERN) leaders recently blogged about how we are celebrating diversity at a time when we honor the remarkable contributions and history of the Black community while driving impactful change within our workforce. Many of our ERN members are actively engaged in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) community, further amplifying the positive outcomes of this partnership.

We have seen tangible results in our recruitment efforts, with an increase in the number of diverse candidates joining our team. This not only strengthens our talent pool but also brings new perspectives and ideas to Schneider, ultimately driving innovation and growth within our organization. Additionally, by empowering employees to participate in community service initiatives, we are making a positive impact beyond the workplace, furthering our commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Through our involvement in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) community, we are striving to increase the attraction, recruitment, and retention of Black professionals through a transformative partnership with robust support from the organization. I’m privileged to hold the role of Fall Regional Conference (FRC) Chair within the SExNSBE leadership, and contribute to Schneider Electric’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators in STEM. 

Inspiring the next generation of tech talent

NSBE is dedicated to promoting academic and professional success for African American engineering students and professionals. As a member of the Board of Corporate Affiliates for NSBE, Schneider Electric partners with NSBE to create and sponsor impactful recruiting, branding, and outreach events.

The FRCs, or Fall Regional Conferences, are annual events hosted in partnership with NSBE to provide opportunities for networking, professional development, and academic growth for participants.

Our Schneider Electric team participated in several FRCs in 2022 and 2023, and carefully curated events aimed to promote a competitive environment that aligns with our focus on STEM education and Professional development for collegiate & k-12 students.

Encouraging future STEM leaders

Schneider Electric’s investment in NSBE reflects our dedication to fostering an inclusive and accessible ecosystem that supports the growth of future STEM leaders. Schneider Electric officially secured its place on the NSBE Board of Corporate Affiliates in June 2021 spearheaded by a small team of five employees. In less than two years, our chapter grew to over 240 employee members.

We have committed volunteer hours towards opportunities advancing youth excellence in STEM, ultimately to sharpen their focus on driving positive change in the world. By the end of 2023, Schneider Electric employees had contributed over 600 member-participation-hours through partnerships with local universities and elementary schools. Members participated in more than 10 speaking engagements at Regional Conferences, National Conventions, and Professional Development Conferences.

Driving impact through engagement

At the NSBE FRCs, Schneider Electric engaged with students and industry professionals in discussions on sustainable engineering practices in renewable energy, sustainable solutions to global problems & STEM-focused events.

Our #SEGreatpeople actively participated in various sessions, delivered inspiring speeches, hosted workshops, and volunteered time to connect with collegiate participants. Their involvement exemplifies Schneider Electric’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators in STEM.

RC motor car building & racing competition K-12 NSBE FRC

Our company’s involvement included initiatives such as the ‘Age of Compute’ Workshops (Torch Fest), Seminars & Community Service events:

  • Books and Resource mobilization for local community centers and local schools.
  • Hosting collegiate and K-12 competitions: ‘Ten80xNSBEJr RC motor build & race’ competition (see image on the right), Academic competitions focused on Thermodynamics, Linear algebra, Molecular chemistry, and more (Jeopardy game-format)
  • STEM Fair & Exhibition: For students to showcase their academic excellence, technical research skills, and entrepreneurial visions.
  • Delivering professional development workshops, including inspiring keynote speeches by SE NAM operations and thought leaders (see images below), resume critique sessions, mock interviews, and an elevator pitch competition.

Transformative debates on disruptive technology

This image shows three Schneider Electric employees at a table smiling.  There are two NSBE students standing next to the table.
Elevator Pitch & STEM fair events, hosted by Don Pretty, Joy Frazier, Abdoulaye Diallo &
Raymond Mills

One of the TORCH Fest Workshops focused on highlighting the role of disruptive technologies in boosting productivity and subsequently cutting operating costs for businesses, positioning innovation as a key driver for positive change in the business landscape.

Students actively participated in constructive debates, exploring the transformative potential of AI in enterprise and search platforms. The discourse delved into the pivotal role AI plays in shaping sustainable business practices. Participants acknowledged AI as a catalyst for innovation, facilitating data-driven decision-making and the design of efficient solutions to address environmental challenges.

Solving future problems

As part of the ‘NSBE Creates the Future’ Seminar, we grouped students into teams led by SE engineers for a design thinking workshop. In this workshop, the students proposed solutions to some of the crippling problems to our environment. The winning team shared a CAD proposal for an AI powered waste disposal that used inductive transfer learning for inference in automated waste classification.

The seminar highlighted the evolving landscape where technology, particularly AI, becomes a driving force for positive change. The students’ engagement showcased a shared understanding of the need for businesses to leverage AI in fostering sustainability and embracing progressive approaches. This discussion serves as a testament to the growing awareness and commitment among the next generation to integrate technology responsibly for a more environmentally conscious and sustainable future.

Reflecting on the NSBE FRC experience

Through my involvement with NSBE and leading several of the FRCs, I learned the immense impact that dedicated mentorship and educational initiatives can have on youth.

Our volunteers witnessed the passion for innovation and dedication to making a difference in the world from the brilliant minds we had the pleasure to interact with. It reinforced our belief in the power of mentorship and the importance of providing platforms for knowledge sharing, skill development, and networking.

The engagement at NSBE FRCs solidifies a dedication to nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders. The success of our partnership with NSBE and BPERN serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of fostering relationships with diverse communities. I was inspired to contribute, drawing on my own transformative experiences attending similar events during my undergraduate years. The vibrant competitive environment, complemented by insightful seminars from industry professionals, left an indelible mark. 

In particular, the emphasis on events to foster student competition proves invaluable. Witnessing peers push each other to excel academically underscores the significance of healthy competition in cultivating winners and go-getters. We’re committed to championing STEM education, professional growth, and fostering an innovative spirit, ensuring these students are well-equipped for the challenges ahead.

Advice for readers

Whether through mentorship, sponsorship, or active participation, your involvement can make a meaningful impact on the next generation of STEM leaders.

As we navigate this dynamic intersection of tech, sustainability, and disruptive innovation, I invite you, our insightful reader, to play a vital role. Your engagement and passion for these crucial topics don’t have to end here. Be part of a community that is dedicated to fostering a sustainable future and guiding young adults towards impactful decision-making.

Keep an eye out for more details later in the year, we appreciate your continued support and look forward to your involvement!

About the author

Author Profile

Yaw Ammann Boakye, Application Design Engineer

Ammann is a detail-oriented problem solver with a passion for sustainability, making a significant impact as a SCADA Application Design Engineer at Schneider Electric (SE). His role involves integrating SE’s SCADA solutions, Power Monitoring Systems and leveraging skills in Controls engineering, programming PLC applications and HMI interfaces.

Prior to joining Schneider Electric, Ammann honed his engineering skills in his coursework and as an Electrical Engineer at Attwood Corp, where he excelled in building and designing schematics for On-water product testing. He was deeply involved in embedded programming for customer products, showcasing his proficiency in handling complex technical challenges.

One defining experience in Ammann’s journey, working on Project “I – CAN Recycle’,” where he trained a neural network to automate recycling on college campuses using a Garbage Classification Dataset. The project’s focus on leveraging advanced technologies, such as multiclass support vector machines and convolutional neural networks, to address environmental challenges deeply resonated with his vision for a greener tomorrow.

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