Rich Harris Receives 2 NSBE Honors

Richard Harris, assistant dean, Academic Scholarship, Mentoring and Outreach and director of NU Program in Multicultural Engineering (NUPRIME), Diversity Programs, was selected as a 2019 Golden Torch Award honoree by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and an NSBE Boston Professionals STEM Advocate 2019 Honoree.

NSBE, a non-profit organization founded 45 years ago, is dedicated to the academic and professional success of black engineering students and professionals, while linking the African American community and the world of technology. NSBE Boston Professionals was chartered as its first National Alumni chapter 30 years ago.

The NSBE Boston Professionals honored Harris’s dedication to pioneering opportunities for black engineering students with their 2019 Stem Advocate – Excellence in Educational Leadership award at the NSBE Boston STEM Benefit: Inspiring Black Innovators of Tomorrow. The NSBE Golden Torch Awards at the society’s national level, recognize high achievements among technical professionals, corporate, government and academic leaders, and university and pre-college students. Harris was honored by NSBE for this award at the 45th Annual Convention in Detroit, MI.

Harris, a two-time Husky, is a pioneer for diversity within the College of Engineering, establishing the College of Engineering’s Diversity Council in January 2018, which he co-chairs with Rachelle Reisberg, assistant dean for Enrollment and Retention, and director of Women In Engineering. He is also a co-principal (co-PI) investigator for a $5 million National Science Foundation program called S-POWER (Stu­dent Path­ways Opening World Energy Resources), which provides transfer scholarships at Northeastern for underrepresented minority students at colleges that do not offer a traditional engineering degree. Additionally, as a co-PI of a $3.5M grant from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, he led an undergraduate research trip to China in collaboration with five other U.S. universities. Harris’s efforts also led to Northeastern being a host site for LSAMP’s 2018-2020 Bridge to the Doctorate program under a $1 million NSF grant.

“While it’s important to increase awareness among K through 12 students, we also need to support those college students who want to pursue an engineering degree, but may have lacked the right information or opportunities when they chose a college and a major,” Harris said.

NUPRIME, which Harris directs, provides support for Northeastern’s chapters of SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) and NSBE referred to on campus as BESS (Black Engineering Student Society).It also links historically underrepresented students to engineering opportunities and aids with transitioning from high school to college, to graduate school or the professions.

“If you really want to encourage diversity, you need to provide formal and informal mentoring, networking opportunities, organizations, and clubs that make underrepresented students feel they’re part of a larger community,” remarked Harris.


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