Accessible Technology Helps Students with Disabilities Pursue STEM Degrees


Students with disabilities are now just as likely as other students to enroll in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields when they enter higher education, recent research from the National Science Foundation reports. The study found that 11 percent of undergraduate degree pursuers have a disability, which Education Week indicates is on par with the 12 percent of K–12 students that have a disability.

As the STEM field clamors to add the expertise of those underrepresented, previous NSF research indicates that this expansion to disabled students is a win for these fields:

“First, the nation’s long-term prosperity is dependent upon ‘talented and motivated individuals who will comprise the vanguard of scientific and technological innovation.’ Second, every student in the United States ‘deserves the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential.’ … In short, excellence and equity in STEM education are interrelated.”

Recent updates to technology and education endeavors that boost accessibility could be helping to level the playing field for students with disabilities in K–12 schools, which could also lead them to more education.

Increased Access to Tools in Both K-12 and Higher Ed

At the end of 2016, Microsoft announced additions to OneNote that aim to help students with disabilities like dyslexia have an easier time in the classroom.

“With accessibility in mind, and based on direct feedback from educators and students, the team continues to expand the capabilities and availability of the tools that help students be successful,” reports the blog post announcing the tools.

Taylor Tefft, a K–12 teacher from New York, even tells Microsoft in the post that Office 365 tools have played a key part in helping her students with disabilities succeed and advance to the next grade level.

At the university level, technology like Adobe Acrobat Pro’s accessibility checker has helped educators make sure class material works for all students. California State University, Northridge has gone a step further with their Accessible Technology Initiative, which helps the school assess tech tools for potential accessibility issues before purchasing.

But, what about tech tools specific to STEM careers?

Students at A. Harry Moore School in New Jersey all have low-incidence disabilities, but supervisor of curriculum Courtney Pepe regularly helps facilitate STEM tech, like robots, to help students with things like social skills and hand-eye coordination. The school also held a Computer Science Education fair last year, where students could practice STEM skills.

EdTech has discussed how STEM technology tools can help students with autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder succeed because of their inclination to be hands-on learners.

“Students with disabilities and science and math go together because they’re about problem-solving and thinking about things in new ways,” says Josh Miele, an associate director of technology research and development at Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, in an SAS Institute blog post.

Read the complete article on Ed Tech.

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Convention Set for Launch!


More Than 10,000 Attendees to Address the Theme ‘Engineering Your Foundation’

Two years ago, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) set a bold, ambitious goal for itself: to lead the United States to graduate 10,000 new black engineers annually by 2025, up from 3,501 African-American engineering graduates in 2014. NSBE’s plan to achieve this goal requires development of a stronger base for the organization and its members: a foundation composed of academic excellence, professional success and commitment to advancement of African-American culture and community.

On March 29–April 2, 2017, at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo., NSBE will demonstrate and discuss the underpinnings of its plan to reach its “10K goal,” during the National Society of Black Engineers’ 43rd Annual Convention (#NSBE43). Attendance at the convention will exceed 10,000 aspiring and practicing engineers; educators; members of the Greater Kansas City community and representatives of more than 200 academic institutions, government agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations. The theme of the event is “Engineering Your Foundation.”

Among the many highlights of the convention’s four-day agenda are high-profile speakers, panel discussions, 120 workshops, networking sessions, company tours, community engagement events, technical and scientific competitions, hands-on engineering and science activities and the premier career fair geared toward African Americans in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). NSBE’s largest event, the Annual Convention showcases black students and professionals who have a passion for STEM, who are high achievers in these fields and who are channeling their dedication to advance their communities and society at large.

“At a time when our organization and the world around us are constantly in flux, we want to ensure our members and the black community have the foundational skills and aspirations to thrive in the international economy,” said Kendra A. Allen, chair of NSBE’s 2017 Annual Convention Planning Committee. “By providing professional development, personal enrichment and service to the community, we hope to inspire our attendees to move forward with a newfound enthusiasm in NSBE’s mission.”

“The Convention Planning Committee has done an excellent job of creating an event with broad appeal and broad social relevance,” said NSBE National Chair Matthew C. Nelson. “The work we will do and the information we will exchange in Kansas City will benefit the African-American community and the U.S. as a whole.”

In addition to events and activities geared toward undergraduates in engineering and other STEM fields, the NSBE Annual Convention includes three “mini-conferences” designed for the Society’s other membership demographics: the Pre-College Initiative (PCI) Conference, for elementary, middle and high school students; the Graduate School Conference (GSC) for current and prospective graduate students; and the Technical Professionals Conference (TPC) for practicing professionals. The TPC is coordinated by NSBE Professionals, the organization for technical professional members of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Richard Z. White is national chair of NSBE Professionals.

“The Annual Convention will be the culmination of a year of breakthroughs for our organization,” White said. “The Technical Professionals Conference will feature our first-ever Chapter Leadership Luncheon as well as a number of other improvements to better engage our NSBE Professionals membership. We urge all STEM workers to get involved!”

“NSBE is grateful for the generous support provided by hundreds of corporate, government, academic and other organizations to make our event possible,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “NSBE’s 43rd Annual Convention is proof that the future is bright for diversity and inclusion in the field of engineering in America.”

More information about NSBE’s 43rd Annual Convention is available online at A small sample of newsworthy activities at NSBE’s 43rd Annual Convention follows.


About NSBE

With 278 chapters and nearly 16,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. NSBE, founded in 1975, supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” For more information, visit

Sign up to follow NSBE on social media.






Read about NSBE’s “Be 1 of 10,000” Campaign at

Read about NSBE’s #BlackSTEMLikeMe Campaign at

NSBE 43rd Annual Convention


Thursday, March 30, 10–11:30 a.m.
Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2209
(Near the 13th Street Underpass)


  • The Honorable Sylvester (“Sly”) James, Mayor, City of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Mark Bedell, Ed.D., Superintendent, Kansas City Public Schools
  • Matthew C. Nelson, NSBE National Chair
  • Kendra A. Allen, Chair, NSBE 2017 Annual Convention Planning Committee
  • Karl W. Reid, Ed.D., NSBE Executive Director

RSVP to Yvette Watson at


Career Fair
Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31
Kansas City Convention Center
Participants: All

With more than 200 major employers and academic institutions exhibiting, the NSBE Annual Convention Career Fair offers unmatched opportunities for professional and educational development of attendees.

Executive Roundtables
Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
Participants: Professional

The Executive Roundtables, a signature program of the Technical Professionals Conference, provide premiere speaking opportunities for executive leaders to engage experienced technical and business professionals. This event features a facilitated discussion among vice president and higher senior-level executives covering select topics and critical issues. This year’s Executive Roundtable topics are as follows:

  • Diversity and Inclusion: Navigating a Multigenerational Workforce
  • Women in Leadership: Paths to the C-Suite – Insights from the Top
  • Technology and Innovation: Artificial Intelligence – Can It Go Too Far?
  • Career Advancement: Advancing Your Career with Social Networking
  • Global and Community Impact: Collective Impact – Making 10K by 2025 a Reality

Mr. and Miss #NSBE43 Pageant
Thursday, March 30, 8–10 p.m.
Kansas City Convention Center
Participants: All

#NSBE43 Pageant is an event to empower young, aspiring STEM professionals of NSBE. Participants will benefit from the opportunity to improve their public speaking, boost their self-confidence and promote academic excellence. Mr. and Miss. NSBE for 2017 will be crowned during the convention.

Innovations Lab
Friday, March 31, 7 a.m.–11 p.m.
Kansas City Convention Center
Participants: Pre-College

The Innovations Lab is an event with a show-and-tell format for people of all ages that will bring out the kid in all of us. This unique learning activity will inspire participants to become innovators and gain interest in a STEM field. The lab will showcase incredible projects and provide opportunities for hands-on learning.

Inside the Executive Suite Breakfast
Brought to You by TE Connectivity
Friday, March 31, 9–10:30 a.m.
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
Participants: Professional, Corporate

This event features a one-on-one interview with a high-profile corporate executive, government official, nonprofit leader or celebrity figure with relevance to STEM.

CEO Spotlight
Friday, March 31, 2–3 p.m.
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
Participants: All

Twitter Cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey leads “The Evolution of Twitter: Tweets for Change,”  a conversation on the history and future of the social media powerhouse. Joining the conversation will be key Twitter influencers Angela Rye, Jamilah Lemieux, April Reign, Johnetta (“Netta”) Elzie and Brittany Packnett to discuss how they use Tweets to drive change for communities and amplify their causes.

‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’ Screening and Outreach Event
Friday, March 31, 6:15–11:15 p.m.
Cinetopia Theatre and Prairie Fire Museum, Overland Park, Kansas
Participants: All

“Dream Big,” directed by MacGillivray Freeman, is the first giant-screen film that seeks to inspire kids of diverse backgrounds to get involved in STEM, to become the innovators who will improve the lives of people across our entire planet as we move into the heart of the 21st century and beyond. NSBE, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Bechtel Corporation will team up to screen the movie at two locations.

NSBE Hackathon
Powered by Google, Inc.; Supported by Cox Automotive, Rockwell Collins and Two Sigma
Friday, March 31, 8 p.m.–Saturday, April 1, 2 p.m.
Kansas City Convention Center
Participants: All

The Hackathon showcases the technical and design skills of NSBE members. This event gives participants the opportunity to bring new and innovative ideas to life by building a working prototype alongside industry professionals. This overnight, 18-hour event includes food, snacks and caffeine to keep the hackers energized, as well as great prizes for the winners.

A Walk For Education
Saturday, April 1, 9–11 a.m.
Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology
Participants: Collegiate

A Walk for Education (AWFE) is a grassroots program in which NSBE members go door to door in underserved black communities and hand out information on college application and enrollment, scholarships, SAT/ACT preparation tools, NSBE membership and the benefits of majoring in STEM fields. The goal of AWFE is to increase awareness of the opportunities available through education, particularly in STEM, and to shatter myths about African Americans studying and working in these fields

NSBE Golden Torch Awards
Saturday, April 1, 7 p.m.
Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City Convention Center
Participants: All

Now celebrating their 20th year, the NSBE Golden Torch Awards are the highest honors given by the National Society of Black Engineers. These awards recognize individuals and organizations that exemplify NSBE’s ideals of academic excellence, professional success and dedication to the advancement of the black community. Since their inception, the NSBE Golden Torch Awards have provided millions of dollars in scholarships for talented high school seniors.


From Impostor to Influencer: Strategies to Get Your Seat at the Table 
Thursday, March 30, 1–2 p.m.

Kansas City Marriott Downtown

Participants: Professional

This workshop, presented by NSBE’s Women in Science and Engineering Special Interest Group, will help reinforce the skills and techniques that women need to battle “the impostor syndrome” and consistently position themselves to be among the decision makers.

Hidden Figures No More: Women Leaders in STEM
Friday, March 31, 1:30–2:30 p.m.
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
Participants: Collegiate, Graduate, Professional

This special presentation and panel discussion, led by NSBE’s Public Policy Special Interest Group, explores the impact women have made on STEM, and the policies that support the advancement of women to leadership positions in industry, academia and government.


Google opens Howard University West to train black coders


Google is opening “Howard West” on its campus in Mountain View, Calif., a Silicon Valley outpost for the historically black university where computer science majors can immerse themselves in coding instruction and tech culture, not to mention the inner workings of one of the planet’s most famous companies.

Between 25 and 30 juniors and seniors from Washington, D.C.-based Howard University will spend 12 weeks at Google this summer, receiving instruction from senior Google engineers and Howard faculty and getting course credit for their studies, the Internet giant announced Thursday.

The program is an outgrowth of Google’s effort to recruit more software engineers from historically black colleges and universities, one of the ways Google is addressing the severe shortage of African Americans on its payroll, particularly in technical roles, where they account for 1% of the workforce.

Eventually Google wants to expand the program to include other historically black colleges and universities, said Bonita Stewart, Google’s vice president of global partnerships, who has been working with Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick to develop the framework.

Stewart says when she joined Google a decade ago, there was little talk of diversity or making the tech industry more representative of the populations it serves. Today, this Howard graduate says Google is making a serious investment in building bridges.

“For us, it is an opportunity to ensure that we are building a pipeline and more importantly, stimulating the right partnerships to drive change,” Stewart told USA TODAY.

Read the complete article on USA Today.

Stevon Cook went from public housing to empowering public schools through tech training


There are roughly 22,000 tech companies in San Francisco, yet most local high school students have never set foot in one. Most don’t even know what a “startup” or a “venture capitalist” is.

Stevon Cook, a former resident of San Francisco’s public housing system, is changing that through his work as chief executive of Mission Bit and his work as a commissioner on the Board of Education for the City of San Francisco.

Cook grew up at a time when Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters’ Point was known as a school that had developed a reputation for sending low-income students to college.

When Cook was looking at high schools, he got assigned to a dropout factory, but he was determined to get into Thurgood. Every student at Thurgood received a laptop and the message they sent was that a laptop was a key to getting into college.

Continue onto TechCrunch to read the complete article.

30 Under 30 Education 2017: Revolutionizing Learning Inside The Classroom, Post-College And Online


Expect 2017 to be a time of exciting changes in the world of education, thanks in part to the “edu-preneurs” on the 30 Under 30 list. This year — and this crowd — are poised to set the pace and lead the next era of learning.

Ever since the digital revolution set its sights on the edu sector, it’s a whole new landscape in terms of big data and analytics, alternative learning platforms such as social media and video, and bustling private — and public — revenue streams. The end result? Increased opportunities and new pathways to learning, especially for previously overlooked or undervalued students and teaching professionals in the areas of STEM and higher education.

Education is much more mobile, adaptable and accessible now. Here, 30 breakouts under the age of 30 who are leading the pack in education innovation, as assessed by our four A-list, expert judges: Stacey Childress – CEO, NewSchools Venture FundArne Duncan – Managing Partner, Emerson CollectiveWendy Kopp – Cofounder, Teach for All & founder, Teach for America; and Marcus Noel – Founder, Heart of Man Ventures and 2016 Under 30 alumnus.

The 2017 Class in Education (visit our full education coverage here)

Jacob Allen, 28, Marie Dandie, 27

Cofounders, pilotED Schools

Louise Baigelman, 29

Cofounder, Story Shares

Blair Brettschneider, 27

Founder, GirlForward

Gregory Brown, 28, Mitchell Moffit, 28

Creators, AsapSCIENCE

Nicole Cardoza, 27

Founder, Yoga Foster

Hardy Farrow, 26

Executive Director, Let’s Innovate through Education

Jamel Toppin for Forbes

Portrait of Jeremy Fiance of The House Fund, by Jamel Toppin for Forbes

Jeremy Fiance, 25

Founder, The House Fund

Jason Field, 27

Founder, BrainStation

Jonathan Gottfried, 26, Mike Swift, 27

Cofounders, Major League Hacking

Continue onto Forbes to see the complete list of young educators changing the world.

Virginia Tech to present honorary degree to Irving Peddrew


Irving Linwood Peddrew III, the first African American student to attend Virginia Tech and the first to attend any historically all-white four-year public institution in the 11 former states of the Confederacy, will receive an honorary degree at Virginia Tech commencement ceremonies on May 13.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands made the announcement during the university’s Black Alumni Reunion celebration held this past weekend on the Blacksburg campus.

“Hard work, character and meaningful experience in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)is the essence of a Virginia Tech degree, and no one is more deserving than Irving Peddrew,” said Sands. “He chose to come here knowing he would endure exclusion and hardship, hoping his experience would make a difference for others, and it certainly has.”

Peddrew will be presented with an honorary Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering during the University Commencement ceremony in Lane Stadium. It will mark only the eighth time in the university’s 145-year history that in individual will be distinguished with an honorary degree.

An honor student at his all-black high school in Hampton, Virginia, Peddrew began his post-secondary education in 1953 as an electrical engineering major and member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He was the only black student among Virginia Tech’s 3,322 students that year.

Peddrew studied three years at Virginia Tech before moving to California to join the workforce. He did not complete his degree program at Virginia Tech.

He worked several years in the aerospace and fruit industries, at Newport News Shipbuilding, and at Hampton University before his retirement in 1994.

“Irving Peddrew displayed enormous courage as he navigated the many difficult obstacles he faced attending a historically all-white institution,” said Matthew M. Winston Jr., senior associate vice president for alumni relations. “He became a catalyst and a pioneer for desegregation, laying the groundwork for the enrollment of generations of African-American students at Virginia Tech. He placed our university on a path to fulfill its true potential to become an inclusive institution for all.”

Continue reading about Irving’s story and his impact at Virginia Tech on the college’s website.

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