NSBE Profile: Speaking Out on Engineering and Community

February 16, 2017

NSBE Profile: Nurein AhmedSomalian born Nurein Ahmed was raised in Louisville. Attending Central High School, he was always a fan of math and science. Initially, he wanted to be a computer engineering, working in the IT program in high school, before switching to mechanical engineering upon his arrival at the University. Still, it was always engineering.

“I almost caught the house on fire a few times; we had a bunch of different papers and wrapper material, and I wanted to see how they burned differently. It wasn’t an act of pyromania; I was curious how the materials were different,” says Ahmed.

A first-generation college student, he had to work to gain admittance to the School. Starting off in the pre-Speed program, Ahmed endured an extra year to gain admittance, but admits that it was ultimately worth it to ensure his preparation.

“I would have been lost. There were things that I didn’t learn in high school that showed up a lot in pre-cal. Growing up in the city, you’re probably not going to use a lot of heavy tools or anything of that nature,” says Ahmed.

His goal is to become a design engineer, which he has had some experience with at GE during one of his co-op rotations. He explains, “To offer you something that’s never been done before, I think that’s really cool.”

Ahmed admits that it hasn’t always been easy. “There were times in class where I was hesitant to speak out. Being the only black kid in the class, I don’t want to be the stupid black boy. You’re more hesitant to say something, but when someone in the class says something, then you think it’s not stupid.”

Enter National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), which has helped inform those choices, providing him a group of peers that he can collaborate with to succeed.

“I can say confidently that without NSBE I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now. NSBE got me in touch with a community that I didn’t even know of.”

For Ahmed, NSBE is more than just a platform to find study partners or aids, serving as a social network as well. Through the organization, Ahmed has not only met and established lifelong friends, but he has had the chance to network with industry professionals, African Americans with comparable experiences who offer advice. In turn, through NSBE’s work at the West End School, he has had the opportunity to give back to the community as a mentor to students growing up in a comparable situation to his own.

He says, “It’s really cool, because you go down there and you tell them that you are an engineer, and they don’t know what that is. I didn’t know what an engineer was until I got to college, which is crazy. Especially see someone that looks like them to help them, just to show them that it’s possible.”

Continuing he adds, “That’s one thing that NSBE taught me, that I can do it. You see other people that look like you, definitely helps. That’s one of the biggest things: representation matters. When you have that representation, it shows you that you can do anything.”

Read more NSBE Profiles:

NSBE Profile: Building a Better Tomorrow
NSBE Profile: Balancing the Future and the Past
NSBE Profile: Perseverance and Family
NSBE Profile: The Value