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Stewart Isaacs

’17

Mechanical Engineering

Apr 2017
I got involved with the Stanford Society of Black Scientists and Engineers (SBSE) my freshman year. Coming from Cincinnati, Ohio, I had little exposure to engineering back home; I had never heard of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and didn’t realize groups like it existed.

As soon as I joined, I could feel the power of being in a group for Black engineers. I was a part of a community that wanted me to succeed, and allowed me to connect with peers who have become my best friends and pushed me to be my best self.

A couple years ago, I worked with a few members to develop a program called BYTES (Black Youth Teams Engineering Solutions). We’ve been able to provide workshops to over 400 Black and Brown students in the community and sponsor 14 projects on campus. My hope is that the BYTES program will not only spark and sustain interest in engineering, but show people that engineering can be a tool they can use to solve the very real problems our communities face. 

One of my proudest moments at Stanford was working with three other Black and Native students for the capstone mechanical engineering course last year. We ended up winning the final competition by designing a hybrid rocket that produced thrust more efficiently than all the others. I think we challenged assumptions people had about our engineering abilities, but honestly, winning also challenged assumptions I held for myself. It feels like I keep doing things that I didn’t think were possible. Next year I’ll be starting toward a PhD in aeronautics and astronautics. My goal to become one of the best in the field, and then use my skills, to make a more just world.

Amanda Law

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