FT. MEADE, Md. –
NSA has made a large effort to engage with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to increase its talent and diversity and the effort is paying off.
The Agency was ranked No. 2 in the list of 2019 Top 10 Government Supporters of HBCU Engineering Programs released by US Black Engineer and Information Technology (USBE) magazine.
“We are thrilled to be honored with this distinction,” said NSA Chief of Staff Earnest Green. “We are well aware of the incredible STEM and liberal arts talent that HBCUs and Minority Institutions (MIs) graduate each year, and know the importance of partnering with these institutions to ensure that academic programs critical to our mission, such as STEM and liberal arts, including linguistics and foreign languages, continue to thrive. We make it a priority to partner with the nation’s colleges and universities, wherever we can, to work together on solving the nation’s most difficult challenges.”
To generate its annual list, USBE surveys the deans of the 15 Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology Inc. (ABET)-accredited HBCU engineering schools, and the corporate-academic alliance Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE). The survey yields a list of both the top 10 government and corporate supporters of HBCU Engineering programs. NSA was surpassed only by NASA on the list.
“Being recognized as a top supporter of HBCU engineering programs is an extreme honor,” said Cynthia Miller, Chief of Human Resources. “NSA strongly values diversity and inclusion and this is demonstrated through our partnerships with these prestigious institutions. Human Resources understands the benefits of attracting their highly trained students. Moreover, we value these institutions as a treasured resource for STEM talent, diversity, and innovation.”
Carla Downs, an outreach advocate with Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity (EEOD), said NSA has been working hard over the past couple of years to make the Top 10 list. The Agency has engaged with the 15 ABET-accredited HBCUs, talked to them about their needs and inquired how NSA can help, she said.
“In EEOD, our main outreach goal is to help out recruitment. We want to give opportunities to minorities and women, and last year we received funding to participate in 11 STEM focused conferences that target minorities and women,” Downs said. “Our main goal is to expand NSA’s reach.”
NSA employee recognized at BEYA STEM Conference
This year, NSA was more involved in the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Global Competitiveness Conference, providing speakers for panel discussions and hosting a networking suite. At the event, NSA employee Dr. Yul Williams, was presented with a Science Spectrum Trailblazer award, honoring men and women who are demonstrating outstanding performance in STEM. Williams, a graduate of Southern University which is an HBCU, was recruited to NSA straight out of college in the 1980s, he said.
“NSA is advancing efforts to encourage HBCUs to participate in collaborative research and contracting opportunities with NSA," Williams said. The Agency’s Academic Liaisons are guiding more HBCUs to become Centers of Academic Excellence (CAEs) in Cyber Defense and Cyber Operations, and NSA is working with AMIE to increase HBCU awareness of NSA and to encourage stronger ties, he said. NSA also recently named N.C. A&T a Featured School, highlighting the 16-year partnership.
“Given these efforts and a host of other ongoing activities, it’s no wonder that NSA is No. 2,” Williams said. Admittedly, he would prefer the No. 1 slot.
Dr. Rajni Goel, an information systems professor at Howard University and director of the Cybersecurity Education & Research Center, said she was not surprised to learn of NSA’s recent ranking for support of HBCU engineering programs.
“NSA actually has a strategy and are operationalizing it,” she said. “They come onto campus, they give research opportunities, they let us know how the faculty can get involved. They are in the classroom demonstrating to students new technologies. … I love that our government is trying to identify the best and the brightest. That’s what’s needed to secure our nation.”
The list of Top 10 Government Supporters includes:
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
- Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- U.S. Department of Education
- Sandia National Laboratories
- U.S. Department of Defense