Published: April 25, 2024 By

Photo caption: From left to right, back to front: Second Row: Abiriham Bitew, Abdirahman Ebiso, Algassimou Diallo and Robiel Kennedy, First Row: Albashir Ali, Bethlehem Belay, Mohamed Mohamedali and Aaron Asibbey.

The CU Boulder chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) recently had 35 of their members attend the 2024 NSBE Annual Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The annual conference provides workshops, panel discussions, a career fair and networking opportunities for NSBE members. 

This is the largest group of students from the chapter that have attended the conference, with 35 students fully sponsored and $40,000 raised by the NSBE executive board through partnerships with the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering and the BOLD Center. 

Among the convention-goers were seven students studying computer science, sponsored by the computer science department.  

Conference Takeaways

Abiriham Bitew, NSBE chapter secretary, said he learned how to network better with industry representatives. 

Alagassimou Diallo, NSBE chapter Pre-College Initiative (PCI) and Technical Outreach Community Help (TORCH) chair, said he learned how to work his personal brand.

"I realized that everything that I do reflects me," Diallo said. "So I made sure that my resume and the way I speak to recruiters and professionals is really on point, while also being my authentic self, letting companies know what they get when they get me." 

For Robiel Kennedy, NSBE chapter fundraising chair, it was motivating seeing people from Google, Apple and other big tech companies giving presentations at workshops on how they achieved their goals. 

Aaron Asibbey, NSBE member, said it was a reality check. "I thought it was just grades that mattered," he said. "But being at this conference was a wakeup call that showed me what I need to set myself up as a competitor. I feel like I wouldn't have seen that if I wasn't in NSBE." 

Advice for future attendees 

Diallo recommended that people attending the conference prepare by practicing their pitches to potential employers and be ready to pivot. 

Asibbey agreed that practice was key. He had a strong resume, he said, but quickly realized that there's a difference between having the experience and being able to comfortably talk about it with other people. 

Bitew said to have confidence, even if you're less experienced. 

"I feel like a lot of first-years doubt themselves," he said. "But I've personally seen friends that were first-years and they got internships and offers, so I'll just say, don't doubt yourself." 

NSBE's impact

"NSBE means support." Bitew said. "I feel like everyone in NSBE is trying to help you succeed in some way. NSBE helped me get my first internship. It's helping me get interviews right now. I feel like NSBE is there to help you continue to grow." 

Diallo said NSBE is dedicated to improving his academic, professional, emotional and social wellbeing through workshops and events, everything from study sessions for finals to a recent Family Feud night. 

"NSBE has had a really prominent impact on my life. It's all about camaraderie and development," Diallo said. 

Kennedy said that the trip also brought the chapter closer together, with members building each other up to prepare for the career fair and networking events. 

Asibbey said he felt being part of the NSBE environment has given him a new type of motivation to excel in different ways as an engineer. 

Why computer science?

Kennedy got interested in computer science in high school. 

"I had a friend in my math class and I bet him 30 bucks that he couldn't guess my phone password. In 15 minutes, he made a Python algorithm and guessed my password based on two numbers. He showed me the terminal and we went through all the code. I was like, dang, this is pretty cool stuff." 

For Bitew, his introduction to computer science was also in high school. He made a computer text-based game his senior year and realized computer science could elevate his creativity. 

"You can bring whatever you want into real life by coding," he said.

Diallo is more interested in the applications of computer science, particularly in healthcare. "I think it's very malleable. There are a lot of opportunities with it. I want to continue and stick with it and see what I can do to make my impact," he said. 

Asibbey is also interested in applications of computer science, including supporting his family's healthcare business, but he also appreciates the flexibility of the major.  

"I chose to major in computer science because with this knowledge andwon't be limited to one thing, one path. I feel like the beauty behind computer science is that you can choose the route that is favorable to you and run with it," he said.