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Des Moines Chapter of NSBE Connects Black Engineers in the Region

NSBE Des Moines Chapter

April 14, 2021

There is no greater joy than a supportive hand when you need it, and then having the opportunity to be the same for others. How this support manifests within the individual evolves over time. Through one’s formative years, support can mean having your eyes opened to new possibilities, while later, it can mean having a support system and sense of community with those that can relate to your journey.

NSBE Impact

Greater Des Moines (DSM) continues to grow in size, reach and connectedness across industries. With an eye on helping shape our community and the landscape of tomorrow’s workforce, it is a joy to share that we have an initial group of founding members from Principal Financial Group and John Deere launching a Des Moines professional chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Since its founding in 1975, NSBE’s members, chapters and supporters have been dedicated to a single mission: increasing the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

I can certainly speak to the impact NSBE can have. Being the first of the family to pursue engineering, my collegiate NSBE chapter at the University of Arizona was a source of refuge and needed direction. Most impactful was having a cohort of fellow Black engineers in the making, pushing each other through challenging semesters and gaining leadership experience by hosting community STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) -related programs, in addition to other initiatives.

Nearing the end of my mechanical engineering program in 2008, NSBE’s regional and national conferences also provided a unique oasis; bringing together Black engineering students, working professionals, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and exhibitors. Through my 13-year career with John Deere, this broader NSBE connectedness has continued to provide new ways to develop and serve.

2015 Professional Development Conference 

Above Image: 2015 Professional Development Conference in Hartford, Connecticut
From left to right: Stewart Carter, James Komen, Nyre Alston, I-Sha Davis, Ada Oyaide Bendorf, Renee Miller, Chris Lewis, Tavonga Siyavora

NSBE’s national conferences and events have continued to grow in size and scope, with the 2019 National Convention the biggest yet with an attendance of over 14,000 people and 350+ exhibitors.

Back at home, I am thankful for the impact NSBE has had on my path so far; providing a national framework for depth across professions and local footprints via collegiate and professional chapters which helps me carry NSBE’s mission forward.

Within my extended family, I’m proud to have been the first engineer, providing a template for others to follow. Also, I am glad to share we now have a recent chemical engineering graduate in the family as well!

Referencing the February 2020 report, by The State Data Center of Iowa and the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans, there are two data points of note:

  • 30.7% — This is the poverty rate for the African American population in Iowa as of 2018, the corresponding rate for our state as a whole was 11.2%.
  • 17.2% — This is the percentage of Iowa African Americans age 25 and over, with a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2018, the percentage for Iowa as a whole was 29.0%.

There are many dimensions to uplifting African American communities across Iowa. For the founding members of the new Des Moines NSBE Professional Chapter, delivering on cultural responsibility means:

  1. Broadening connectedness and comradery across Black professionals
  2. Providing professional development opportunities through chapter and nationally sponsored events
  3. Partnering with local companies and organizations to create awareness of opportunities in the engineering profession and expanding their talent pipeline
  4. Chapter and nationally sponsored events to promote STEM education for K-12 students across DSM

We are excited to establish our very own local chapter, building on 85+ sister chapters across the nation and membership base of 4,400+ professionals.

If you want to learn how you can get involved and inspire the next generation of Black engineers, please reach out to our shared mailbox at nsbecentraliowa@gmail.com.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Tavonga Siyavora

Tavonga Siyavora is a product marketing manager at John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group. In his role he works with global teams on the adoption of Deere's machine self-driving technology, helping growers improve outcomes.