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SISTEM one-on-one with Dr. Irving P. McPhail, President & CEO of The National Action Council For Minorities in Engineering (NACME): Supporting the national effort of increasing the number of successful African-American, Native American, and Latino young women and men in STEM education and careers.

Irving McPhail

Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail was named the sixth president and Chief Executive Officer of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) on September 1, 2009. He joined NACME in 2007 as executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining NACME, Dr. McPhail founded and served as principal of The McPhail Group LLC. He served 15 years as a college president or chancellor at The Community College of Baltimore County, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, and LeMoyne-Owen College. Dr. McPhail also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Baltimore City Public Schools. Dr. McPhail is the co-editor of Teaching African American Learners to Read: Perspectives and Practices, published by the International Reading Association in 2005, and the author of more than 50 journal articles, chapters, monographs, and technical reports.

Q: Tell us about The National Action Council For Minorities in Engineering (NACME)'s mission, services and programs?


McPhail: NACME’s mission is to ensure American competitiveness in a flat world by leading and supporting the national effort to expand U.S. capability through increasing the number of successful African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers. NACME’s mission is to ensure American competitiveness in a flat world by leading and supporting the national effort to expand U.S. capability through increasing the number of successful African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.

We inspire and encourage excellence in engineering education and career development toward achieving a diverse and dynamic American workforce.

Q: Can you elaborate specifically on NACME's scholarship program and its importance?

McPhail: NACME distributes more than $4 million annually through block grants to its partner institutions and as individual awards. Since our founding, NACME has given more than $142 million in scholarship and support to 24,000 underrepresented minority students, increasing the flow of talent entering the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions.

Q: What are the critical steps policymakers should undertake to increase the number of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans in Engineering and other STEMS disciplines, and to bridge the scientific and technological divide between represented and underrepresented groups in Science?

McPhail: Early education efforts are needed to close the achievement gap and develop student interest in STEM. Federal policies must be based on research and best practices. NACME endorses the Algebra by 7th Grade (Ab7G) Initiative, which is an early intervention effort that developed as an outcome of the February 2013 meeting of minority STEM organizations hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

America’s College Promise Proposal aims to create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for responsible students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college. This plan can provide a major boost to energizing the community college pathway to engineering for all Americans, and specifically for underrepresented minorities (URMs).

There is more on this in the papers that can be found at: http://www.nacme.org/engineering-public-policy.

Q: What recommendations do you have for African American, Latino and Native American students who want to pursue STEM studies? In addition, what advice do you have for professionals of color who are already in STEM careers?

McPhail: Get a solid foundation in math and science. Don’t avoid math and science courses, as they help you develop the critical thinking necessary to do well in engineering. Have the determination and the passion for it and be willing to put in the time to learn and master the engineering field that you choose. Seek out mentors to help you with class work and find groups of like-minded people for support.

To read more ISTG Online Publication articles, please click here.