CSULB NSBE Helps Young Black Engineers
By Dianne Anderson
Growing scaffold-based human skin and other essential organs is nothing new in the world of biomedical engineering, but it never ceases to amaze the kids.
For Anaya Blade, her sights are set on kids and students in engineering, letting them know that every field of research is fascinating, from healthcare to clinical to biotechnology, coding to the vastness of space physics.
“They have a tissue engineering lab at the college. They have different [body] parts, stem cells, heart, the various labs that kids go into and look around,” she said.
Biomechanics is her specialty, even as human movement leans toward new brain-machine interfaces that control prosthetic limbs.
“There’s a lot of work on rewiring the nerves to control prosthetics, that’s something I want to research,” she said. “It’s one of the reasons I got into biomechanics in the first place,” who is moving toward an MD and a Ph.D. in research to eventually become an orthopedic surgeon.
Naturally, the brainiacs that make up the CSULB NSBE engineering club aren’t necessarily in it for the money, although $80-100,000 a year average starting salary never hurts. A bigger attraction is the science, math and creativity behind the technology that captivated their young minds early on.
Printing out human kidneys, and slicing through DNA with CRISPR tools, coding robots, drones, or
3-D printed hearts or bladders is still cool, but it’s almost considered old school.
She clearly remembers her first exciting tour of the CSULB lab when she was in high school.
“I was like, wow, this is what they’re up to. Now that I’m in college, I’m able to join those organizations that are doing research because I’m doing research,” said Blade, a graduate of the SATO Academy of Mathematics and Science, and currently CSULB’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
She feels that Black students are much more capable of entering these futuristic fields, but need more access to academic, social and family support.
In her role with NSBE, she collaborates with Black organizations, providing academic help and scholarships, increasing enrollment and high achievement and leading students to bigger jobs and better internships. She said they want their presence known on campus.
“We are an academic and a Black social organization, and other Black organizations on campus are welcome. We’re building community connections, the identity and brand,” said Blade, a major in the College of Engineering’s Biomedical Engineering Department.
But it’s not without challenges. As part of their NSBE Jr chapter, she and other college mentors are always on the lookout for younger kids in middle and high schools, which is how she got started.
While in the NSBE Jr. chapter, CSULB members visited her high school, and later she became president, where she said it was great to connect with young like-minded collegiates headed toward the same industry.
As part of their College of Engineering outreach, of which she is also a member, they host several programs on campus such as MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement). During spring semester,
NSBE middle and high school students come to campus to compete with a range of science projects, including robotics and computer science.
Blade also participated in the Beach Engineering Student Success Team (BESST) program, and is now BESST tutor. She said support in math and science is critical, and Black students need to know that they are not alone.
“We nurture them and talk to them encourage them to go into these fields because a lot of kids might be interested but they do not always see people who look like them in that field,” she said.
Coming into her new NSBE seat, she plans to continue with her passion. Blade is the organization’s past vice president, having entered the program in her freshman year as part of the board and internship. On top of being a full-time student, she also works a job and is president of her sorority, Beta Phi Beta.
She credits her parents as her primary support system. She is a first generation student in her family attending university and finishing in engineering.
“And NSBE is part of the reason why I stay focused. I have friends who can teach me or tutor me, I’m part of the familial experience,” she said.
Coming up, there are many great NSBE activities planned for the year ahead. Members are active with tutoring, and alumni always return. They are engineers who have landed great jobs, and ready and willing to offer advice, guidance and sometimes they help get graduates in the door.
“I have a friend who is like, hey my job is looking for people. I’m giving recommendations, send me your resume,” she said.
To learn more about NSBE, see https://nsbecsulb.weebly.com/