The UARK NSBE Chapter at the Region V Zone Meeting

Kristianna Jones is an undergraduate studying biomedical engineering, and the secretary of the UArk chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Below, she discusses her experiences during last year’s Region V NSBE Fall Conference. 

Being an African American student in the STEM field, it’s not very often that I meet people who look like me and have the same goals and aspirations as me. Well, at least not until you go to a NSBE conference. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE for short) hosts multiple regional conferences every year and this year, many University of Arkansas chapter members and myself had the privilege of attending the Region V Fall Regional Conference in Tulsa, OK. The Fall Regional Conference (FRC) was a 3-day conference full of workshops, speakers and even a career fair with a plethora of well-known companies such as Cerner, Google and General Motors!

The first day of the conference was filled with various workshops about topics ranging from studying abroad to how to strengthen your personal brand. A few of these workshops were hosted by current and former University of Arkansas students. As the chapter secretary, I was often asked to help assist with and coordinate the events that the chapter would be attending so I even got to help prepare a few workshops for the entire conference! It was rewarding to see how the work I put in helped better the conference experience for students I had never even met before.

Kristianna Jones and the rest of the chapter celebrating the Vanguard Awards

Attending this conference was more than just all business all the time. There were also plenty of fun competitions such as NSBE Debaters, the Google Hackathon and the elevator pitch competition. Even though I was on the University of Arkansas debate team who won the competition last year (2016), we decided to not participate again this year. However, we did have members of our chapter who did participate in competitions and our very own Chidubem Egbosimba, also a biomedical engineering student here at the U of A, won first place in the Technical Research Exhibition! Here is what he had to say about his experience:

“I entered the foyer of the hotel and set up my poster to be presented to the 3 judges circulating the room soon after the student adjacent to me completed his. I proceeded to delve into my project regarding block-copolymer based nanoparticle objects and their applications. Following the presentation, two of the judges and I discussed more potential directions regarding applications as well as the possibilities of incorporating technologies like this within electronic systems.

One day later during the award ceremony, it was announced that I received the first-place award and to my surprise my brother, Ikenna Egbosimba, member of the NSBE regional board, requested to present it to me. I thanked God as I heard my name called and nearly shed tears upon receipt of the award from my very own brother. The heartfelt demonstration moved the audience to applause. It is a moment that I will never forget.”

Chidubem Egbosimba surveys the poster of a competing graduate student as judges review and critique

The conference was full of moments that I will never forget as well. My biggest takeaway was the chance to network with not only great companies, but also with other biomedical engineers just like me! It’s always nice to know that even though I am sometimes struggling to figure out what I would like to do after graduation, there are other people in the same boat as me. Conferences such as this are always a great chance to look at and appreciate the bigger picture of what engineering is as a whole. It is so much more than difficult classes and long study hours.

It is a community of people who truly want to utilize their skills and resources to make the world a better place. And if I got all of this from just the Regional Conference, I can’t wait to see what the National Convention has in store for me!

– Kristianna Jones

Note: Any BME students interested in competing in the 2018 Fall Regional Conference Research Exhibition are encouraged to do so! Visit the University of Arkansas NSBE chapter website here to learn more.