Cultivating community the focus of Engineering’s Black History Month event  – Faculty of Engineering

Cultivating community the focus of Engineering’s Black History Month event 

Panellists at the Black @ Mac Eng Cultivating Community event
Emcees and panellists from the Black @ Mac Eng Cultivating Community event (from left to right): Damilola Fadiya, Jodi-Anne Buckley, Sarah Alizerig, Dr. Tom Wanyama, Prince Chukwuemeka, Efosa Imasekha, Omoseke Fowode
By Keiko Kataoka

Community took centre stage at the Faculty of Engineering’s Black @ Mac Eng event, held in honour of Black History Month on February 15 in Alumni Memorial Hall.

The event provided a platform for attendees to forge connections, commemorate achievements and glean insights from a panel comprised of Black faculty, staff, alumni and students. They explored perspectives on the importance of community development within McMaster for its Black members and strategies to foster it.

Jodi-Anne Buckley, co-emcee and Black Student Recruitment and Career Advisor in Engineering Co-op & Career Services, underscored the relationship between community formation and cultural evolution. These elements, she noted, are pivotal in fostering a sense of belonging and inspiring development. “Community gives us the opportunity to nurture our future generations,” says Buckley. “This is exactly what our Black Mac Eng community strives to do.”

One such source of community is familial ties, which was showcased with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) – McMaster Chapter current and past presidents, all of whom are siblings. The Fadiya family’s enduring commitment has played a leadership role in nurturing a legacy that champions and uplifts Black excellence in Engineering for more than a decade.

Damilola Fadiya, the current NSBE president, joined Buckley in moderating a panel discussion. The panel featured:

  • Tom Wanyama, Associate Professor and Director of The Learning Factory in the W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology
  • Sarah Alizerig, Manager of Community Outreach in the Faculty of Engineering
  • Omoseke Fowode ’22, Masters of Engineering Design grad and Web and Graphic Designer in the Faculty of Engineering
  • Efosa Imasekha, who is studying Engineering Physics and the Vice-President of NSBE and Prince Chukwuemeka, who is studying BTech Automotive and Vehicle Engineering Technology. Both Efosa and Prince are international students from Nigeria.

Panellists shared the following insights about cultivating community, respect and belonging at McMaster:

I encourage all professors to take equity, diversity and inclusion training. In my classes, I use examples that are diverse, like systems that are made by Black engineers or ones used in countries that are predominantly Black.

Tom Wanyama
  • Sarah Alizerig: “The Community Outreach team in Engineering is working to create an inclusive ecosystem. We’re doing that by celebrating one another, supporting one another, and working on a long-term strategy to show youth that we are binding together to become a force for change and support.”
  • Omoseke Fowode: “Organizing more events like this that emphasize achievements and contributions generates a sense of belonging and pride. Establishing groups and networks that are geared to the needs and interests of alumni to build mentorship and professional opportunities is important too.”  
  • Efosa Imasekha: “Events through the Black Student Success Centre and NSBE meetings where you can be yourself and as expressive as you want, makes you feel like you belong in a university setting.”
  • Prince Chukwuemeka: “Supporting Black students from Welcome Week can improve the first-year experience and sense of community right from the beginning of the Mac experience.”

Also in attendance were employer partners like Pepsico and Stelco who have supported Black students through scholarships, funding NSBE and/or providing co-op and career opportunities.

Guests, which included people with affiliations across McMaster, were encouraged to use the event as an opportunity to create a new connection, reinforce a connection and leave with a stronger sense of community.

Cultivating Community is the latest Black @ Mac Eng event, which has previously included an outreach event for prospective students and their supporters on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) pathways and a forthcoming March Break activation.