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Wed Sep 9, 2020, 07:51 PM

'Why STEM Needs To Focus On Social Justice': Black Students Do Well When Schools Let Them Do Good [View all]

'Why STEM Needs to Focus on Social Justice.' Black students do well when schools let them do good. By Daniel Block, Executive Editor, The Washington Monthly Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2020.

- Millard McElwee, PhD student at UC Berkeley, aims to become one of America’s relatively few Black engineering professors: scarce resource.

Millard McElwee was 12 years old when Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana. Having evacuated to the relative safety of Shreveport before the storm hit, McElwee at first didn’t realize the enormity of the catastrophe. But as his family drove back to their suburban New Orleans home, the carnage was unmistakable. Trees were down. Towns all along Interstate 55 were in blackouts. Even Baton Rouge appeared to have no power. “It’s still something I vividly remember,” McElwee said of the outages. “You could tell the difference, even in the cities during the day.”

While McElwee’s own home was without electricity for a month, he was still lucky: Located north of the city, his house hadn’t flooded. Many of his relatives, who lived in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward and Metairie, weren’t so fortunate. Some moved in with McElwee temporarily. At one point, his family’s two-bedroom house and office trailer hosted 13 people. They depended on canned water and National Guard–issued ready-to-eat meals, or MREs. “It was nasty,” McElwee said of the meals, which are used by the Department of Defense to sustain troops in combat. He chuckled. “It was nasty back then when they gave it to us. It was nasty years later when we tried it again to see if it would get any better.”

Eating the foul-tasting MREs is one of McElwee’s most striking Katrina memories. But it’s hardly the only facet of the storm that left a lasting impression. McElwee remembers engineering experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, coming to the city to assess what had gone wrong. He recalls talking with his father about why the levees and the Army Corps of Engineers had failed so badly. It gave him a new goal: to become an engineer himself so he could better protect people from catastrophes.

After the storm, McElwee dedicated himself to his classes, becoming a straight-A student. He began looking at the engineering programs of various universities. He visited MIT’s website daily. Doing so helped him find the school’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program—a renowned and selective academic camp for teenagers from underrepresented communities. McElwee, who is Black, attended, and then went on to study civil engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Now he is a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, where he works on quantifying how natural disasters impact communities of color.

..McElwee’s work fits into a broader trend among Black people in STEM fields...

More, https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/september-october-2020/why-stem-needs-to-focus-on-social-justice/

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Reply 'Why STEM Needs To Focus On Social Justice': Black Students Do Well When Schools Let Them Do Good [View all]
appalachiablue Sep 2020 OP
uriel1972 Sep 2020 #1