NSBE-Houston Space Chapter

Frequently Asked Questions


Q:        Please define the acronyms for the organizations mentioned in this FAQ

A:         NSBE              National Society of Black Engineers

            NTA                National Technical Association

            NSBE-HSC     This chapter

            NSBE-HAE     NSBE Houston Alumni Extension (a NSBE Alumni chapter that meets once a month on the campus of TSU)

            NTAHC           NTA Houston Chapter (an NTA chapter that meets once a month in the HESS club)

            AAAN             African American Aerospace Network (a JSC-area local coalition that presents periodic programs of interest to the Black aerospace community)


Q:        Why start a new NSBE Alumni chapter in Houston?

A:         At NASA-JSC there is a need for something that can focus on the specific needs of Black space professionals in a way that a city-based chapter cannot.  Between various solutions (i.e. Blacks in Government, NSBE-HAE, NTAHC, NASA-JSC’s Equal Opportunities Office, AAAN, other unique local organization(s) that could be started, etc.) a local NSBE Alumni chapter specifically focused on JSC provides the greatest possible flexibility and infrastructure to meet currently unmet needs.


Q:        How is NSBE-HSC affiliated?

A:         NSBE-HSC is a NSBE Alumni chapter, part of NSBE’s Region Five.  We began as an expansion project of the NSBE University of Tennessee Space Institute chapter working in close conjuction with NSBE-HAE, but became independent of UTSI-NSBE at the end of the 2002-2003 academic year.  At that point, we formed a separate chapter within the Alumni Extension.


Q:        Do I need to be an alumnus of NSBE in order to join?  What if I wasn’t in NSBE in college?

A:         No.  The term "alumni" refers to a member's undergraduate education, not to prior membership in NSBE.  Some advocate changing the name NSBE Alumni Extension to NSBE Career, or some other similar designation to prevent this confusion.  NSBE Alumni members must have a bachelor's degree or higher education in an engineering, math, or science degree field, thus all are alumni of some educational institution.  Members do not need to have been members of NSBE as an undergraduate. 


Q:        What is the purpose of NSBE-HSC?

A:         As part of NSBE, our mission is NSBE's mission:  “To increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers, who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.”  Specifically to the NASA-JSC area, our focus is to enhance the technical, professional, and personal quality of Black civil service, contractor, and entrepreneurial science/engineering professionals, co-ops, and interns involved in the space industry; to increase the number of Black students successfully pursuing engineering degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level; to encourage Houston area Black youth to pursue careers in science and engineering; to engage the African American community at large in the arena of human spaceflight; and to apply our technical expertise for the betterment of the Houston community and the world.


Q:        My career is connected with the space industry and I would like to be a part of this organization, but I am not a scientist or engineer.  Is there a way for me to be involved?

A:         Yes, you may still join.  While many activities do focus specifically on technical issues, some will appeal to space professionals at large.  If you do not hold a science or engineering degree, NSBE still allows you to join as an affiliate or honorary member.  As such, you will not be able to hold certain chapter offices that NSBE restricts to regular Alumni members and you may also be limited with respect to some national and regional activities, such as holding national or regional offices, and some competitions and awards may also be restricted.  But you will be able to fully participate in virtually any NSBE-HSC events you wish and you can serve in most NSBE-HSC executive board offices.  If you have anything to do with the space program, NSBE-HSC has something for you.


Q:        Do I have to work for NASA to join NSBE-HSC?

A:         No.  Any person living in the Houston-Galveston metro area who meets the criteria for membership in the NSBE Alumni Extension may join the NSBE-HSC chapter.  However, the chapter is oriented specifically towards the space industry, so those African American scientists and engineers directly engaged in some aspect of rocketry and space exploration would be best served by this chapter.  Persons in other industries may find their needs better served by the Houston Alumni Extension chapter and/or other professional societies.  But absolutely anybody and everybody who desires to join is welcome, whether they fall within our target demographics or not.


Q:        Do you have to be Black to join NSBE-HSC?

A:         Absolutely not.  While the NSBE mission is concerned with increasing the number of culturally responsible Black engineers, everybody who is concerned with and is working towards that mission is not Black.  Any individual of any ethnicity who wishes to take part in the organization is more than welcome to join us and contribute to the maximum of his/her interests and abilities.  Again, the only membership requirement concerns educational background and those who do not meet that requirement can still join in an affiliate or honorary capacity.


Q:        Will there be joint projects between NSBE-HAE and NSBE-HSC?

A:         Definitely.  In a sense, one could think of the Houston Alumni Extension as the “parent” chapter to the Houston Space Institute.  NSBE-HAE will always be the central NSBE Alumni chapter for the Houston area and there will always be regular joint projects with HAE, especially those of a social, networking, community service, or cultural nature that extend beyond the space industry.  (There may eventually be other spin-off chapters in other Houston industries, such as the oil and information technology fields.  If/when that occurs, there will be joint projects between NSBE-HAE and all other Houston Alumni chapters, often with the HAE as the central point of contact.)


Q:        How will NSBE-HSC avoid conflicting with NTAHC?

A:         There have been periodic membership conflicts on national and chapter levels between NSBE and NTA in the past, so this issue does require monitoring and NSBE-HSC will be designed with this in mind.  NSBE-HSC will attempt to provide programs that complement, rather than compete with NTAHC activities.  Because NTAHC is a citywide chapter like NSBE-HAE, there will be inherent differences in its scope and function.  As a JSC-specific chapter, NSBE-HSC will have a more concentrated onsite focus.  Further, NTA and NSBE have slightly different missions, which will orient the chapters in complementary, but distinct directions.  NSBE-HAE and NSBE-HSC will both work in partnership with NTAHC and other organizations, enabling all to accomplish programs and projects that are too large for any one or two organizations to accomplish alone.  NSBE-HSC will further coordinate its programs such that they do not work against the goals of NTAHC or NSBE-HAE programs.  (i.e. if NTAHC holds a Junteenth celebration at JSC, there is no need for NSBE-HSC to have a competing program at the same time; NSBE-HSC will simply attend the NTA program, or perhaps provide manpower support or a complementary program – perhaps NTA might sponsor a lunch program in the cafeteria while NSBE sponsors an after work social, or vice versa.)  Finally, there is so much to be done that neither NSBE-HSC nor NTAHC can do it all.  We will simply divide the labor between ourselves and other organizations to provide maximum benefit to the Houston Black space community.


Q:        How will NSBE-HSC interact with NSBE students?

A:         NSBE has tasked the Alumni Extension to increase its interaction with student members.  A primary focus will be mentoring to NSBE student members who are on work tours at NASA-JSC.  This includes both high school and college students.  NSBE-HSC will provide one-on-one and group mentoring to these students, ensuring that all motivated students have rewarding work experiences, worthwhile academic and technical development, and are properly positioned to aggressively compete for a permanent position in an area of interest upon graduation.  Priority will be given to providing this mentoring to active NSBE members, but as resources allow, NSBE-HSC will also provide mentoring to any interested students at JSC.  NSBE-HSC will further use its influence within NASA, United Space Alliance, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other NASA contractors to ensure that co-op and internship recruiting for JSC positions is consistently pursued at the NSBE National Convention and in NSBE Region V conferences that host career fairs.  NSBE-HSC will also work regularly with area NSBE collegiate chapters, developing close working relationships with chapter leadership and their universities’ engineering departments, seeking to expand future co-op, intern, and hiring opportunities for students attending those schools.  NSBE-HSC will also charter NSBE Jr. chapters in selected target areas and help to coordinate an overall Houston strategy for NSBE Jr.  NSBE-HSC will further participate in NASA’s numerous student outreach programs and will market these programs to NSBE and NSBE Jr. chapters in an effort to increase African American participation.


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