Inducting the Next Generation of Energy Leaders

March 12, 2014, will forever be regarded as a date of significance in the annals of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. The day marks the induction of the very first American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) student chapter to NYU.

One year ago, Associate Dean of Student Affairs Anita Farrington, attended the annual AABE convention held in Baltimore, and was impressed by the strong membership base, corporate and government support, as well partnerships with several engineering schools. "I met several corporate recruiters from energy companies who were very interested in connecting with our students to discuss internship and placement opportunities; many of them had not previously recruited at  the School of Engineering," said Dean Farrington. "I saw the potential for our students and at that moment I became determined to encourage them to make this chapter a reality."

AABE, a national organization of energy professionals, was founded in 1977 to ensure the input of African Americans and other minorities into the discussion and development of energy policies, regulations, technology, and related environmental issues. Today, AABE boasts 1300 members and 39 chapters across the country, with the newly-inaugurated student chapter being the first in the North East.

Inductees, family, friends and supporters gathered in the Wunsch Building to share in an evening that paid homage to the journey of our predecessors while celebrating a new page in the School of Engineering's legacy. In a building that once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, experienced leaders in the energy field ushered the next class of innovators one step closer to a bright and successful future.

“The launch of an AABE student chapter here at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering is an important step in building a pipeline of qualified and highly-regarded energy professionals right here in New York City,“ said Gerald Dawes, president of the school's alumni association and director of construction management at ConEdison.”

With a strong focus on collaboration with the various organizations on campus and any student with the desire to contribute, AABE’s mission is to enlighten all of their peers on the multitude of opportunities in the energy field.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an electrical engineer or an English doctorate. No matter who you are or the circumstances you come from, there are opportunities in the energy field,“ said Ramon Parchment, president of the AABE student chapter and a junior civil engineering major. “The student chapter of AABE is here to help students find their place in the energy industry.”

Parchment is off to a good start.

“Ramon told me about AABE and how they wanted to bring in different majors to work on collaborative projects,” said Noelle McKay, graduating senior and AABE member. “I wasn’t really aware of the energy field but he explained more and I thought it would be great to take part and help the community.”

McKay is majoring in mechanical engineering and hopes to work in the energy field post-graduation. Fellow AABE inductee, Erin Levering—a junior majoring in construction management—has similar plans and has already put careful thought into how she can do her part in the work force.

“One thing I’ve realized is that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a growing part of the construction industry. It’s become really important to me,” said Levering. “I know that I do want to get the LEED AP certification. What I build is going to be energy efficient so we’re not sucking up so much energy.”

By the evening’s end—after a brief history by Gerald Dawes, inspired addresses by both keynote speaker, Frank Stewart, AABE’s former national president, William Suggs, North East Regional Director of AABE, and remarks by AABE’s student chapter president—it was clear that AABE’s past, present and future representatives take their commitment to implement solutions to the world’s environmental and energy problems seriously.

“It is our duty as leader of tomorrow to rally the best and the brightest around opportunities in the energy field,” said Parchment, clutching the podium on a night that would impact the lives of everyone in that room and beyond. “It’s our duty to ignite discussion in the students of today so they may, in turn, turn this passion into a profession.”

Congratulations to all the inductees of the AABE student chapter.