Black Engineer of Year conference opens today

Science, technology careers promoted

February 14, 2002|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

Tyrone Taborn was reminded how difficult it is to keep young students interested in math and science when his 11-year-old daughter announced one day that she no longer liked math.

Courtney has since regained her interest, but Taborn worries that too many other youngsters, particularly African-Americans, aren't taking the science and math classes that can prepare them for careers in engineering and technology.

"It's our responsibility to make sure we're stakeholders in the well-being of the next generation," Taborn said. "We've got to get kids thinking about technology in kindergarten, first grade and second grade."

For nearly two decades, Taborn has brought attention to the matter as president and chief executive officer of Career Communications Group Inc., the Baltimore company that publishes U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine. The company begins its 16th Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference today at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The conference was started to promote diversity and encourage minorities to pursue careers in science and technology.

Much of this year's conference is aimed at feeding young students' interest in the fields. Several hundred Baltimore schoolchildren will be bused to the Convention Center to participate in hands-on science experiments and other technology-related activities.

By the end of the three-day event, nearly 10,000 grade-school children, college students, professionals and executives are expected to have attended. The conference will include seminars on the latest technologies and how to pursue a career in engineering, technology or the sciences.

It also gives students a chance to see African-American role models, because executives from large firms such as International Business Machines Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. will attend, Taborn said.

Taborn said he wants to remind people that there are still plenty of jobs in technology, even with all the talk of failed dot-com companies.

"The message that we're hearing is that, because of the bust of the dot-coms, that people should be wary of the future of the high-tech industry," Taborn said. "If that's the message, that's the wrong message."

The conference will end Saturday evening with an awards banquet honoring the winner of the "Black Engineer of the Year Award" and 27 other winners.

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