University of Southern California
National Society of Black Engineers - USC Chapter

History of the Organization

In 1971, Purdue University students Edward Barnette and Fred Cooper wanted to create a Black Society of Engineers to help improve the recruitment and retention of minorities in this field, where a devastating 80 percent of the black freshman entering the program dropped out. With the help of the Dean and the only black member on staff, Arthur J. Bond, this organization became officially recognized as the Black Society of Engineers (BSE) at Purdue University.

Ed Barnett served as the first president of the BSE. This organization served as the only black engineering society on campus and gave the students the opportunity to complete their homework and study for exams together in a family-like environment. It eventually became the strongest and most nurturing academic group for black engineers in the school. Upon successfully graduating, Ed Barnett and Fred Cooper became corporate supporters of their visionary program at Purdue.

The activities of the members of the Black Society of Engineers resulted in increased retention and increased enrollment.  In 1974, with the direction and encouragement of Bond, Mr. Anthony Harris, a leader within the group, led the initiative to make what was happening at the BSE of Purdue a national program.  Under the leadership of Harris, the organization's name changed from the Black Society of Engineers to the Society of Black Engineers, and eventually formed into NSBE, the organization that we know of today. The official founders of NSBE, along with Anthony Harris, are Brian Harris Stanley L. Kirtley, John W. Logan Jr., Edward A Coleman and George A. Smith.