A program aimed at helping minorities with a passion for engineering.
by Andrew Craig
The Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists (CABPES) is one of many supplementary educational programs that pioneers new ways to teach youth the basic concepts of engineering, in an attempt to overcome one of society’s biggest engineering challenges: the under-representation of minorities in the field of engineering.
Since its inception in 1980, CABPPES has devoted itself to solving that problem. One of the main solutions CABPES has pioneered is exposure. CABPES exposes its students to a variety of rudimentary concepts and principles that are related to engineering. A student who chooses to enroll, after hearing about and attending the opening meeting in late August, in the CABPES program has the opportunity to choose from a variety of classes, such as software design, civil engineering, aeronautical engineering, and electrical engineering. The CABPES “school year” begins with a potluck in September and ends with a banquet and bridge competition in May. The classes take place nearly every Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The classes are taught by advisors, or qualified engineers who volunteer their time to teach the students. This school year, CABPES has approximately 100 students enrolled in one of its many programs, and also has 45 registered volunteers.
Although learning the fundamentals of engineering is an important and crucial step in solving the previously stated problem, exposure isn’t the only thing CABPES has to offer its students. CABPES provides students from all over the Denver-Metro area with the opportunity to apply for scholarships when they are seniors, free SAT and ACT preparation, and math and science tutoring. “CABPES is definitely a place that offers youth a lot of opportunities,” remarked Melodie Brooks, the software design advisor. “I feel as if the organization is ensuring the education and future of youth. It provides high school and middle school students of African American ancestry, and really all other minorities, with a rare opportunity to familiarize themselves with engineering. “
Some of the other opportunities CABPES offers youth include chances to network with engineers and other youth, and scholarships for students upon graduation from the program.
“Each year we give the students some scholarship money for college. The amount that they (the seniors) receive is dependant upon the budget; so it varies from year to year,” said Brooks.
CABPES is a program that is geared towards African American youth and other cultural youth groups who are under-represented in the field of engineering. Even though the program’s main constituents are people of color, anyone can enroll in the program and attend the classes.
On a broader and larger spectrum, CABPES is a program that demonstrates and epitomizes the true concept of being role models. The program, and more specifically the advisors, encourage and inspire the students to create programs that are similar to CABPES, in their own fields of interest. As Dewy Brigham Jr., the current president of CABPES said, “CABPES is a legacy that will help students to create their own.”