Howard University hosts USA’s first STEM Best Practices Forum

Dr. Thomas Mensah
Dr. Thomas Mensah

Dr. Anthony K. Wutoh, Provost of Howard University in Washington DC kicked off the first ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Best Practices’ Forum of the USA on March 11, 2016 at the new Howard University Interdisciplinary Research Building in Washington DC in conjunction with the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation (NNPA) of the U.S.A.

Dr. Wutoh made remarks in place of the President of Howard University; Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick and welcomed Dr. Benjamin Chavez – President of NNPA, Denise Roark Barnes –  Chairman of NNPA, and Al McFarlane; Chair of the NNPA Foundation and the STEM Experts to Howard University.

Best Practices in STEM is part of the NNPA 2016 Black Press Week Forum that assembled a group of select scholars and educators from four Washington DC area Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Washington area Primary, Middle and Junior High Schools.

Howard University’s first STEM best practices forum

Leading Engineers with the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and a Member of the American National Academy of Inventors (NAI) were among others present to provide hands-on Robotics assembly and demonstration to student scholars who were experiencing this for the first time ever.

Fiber Optics Inventor and the NNPA Foundation’s ‘STEM Reach 2020’ Ambassador – Dr. Thomas Mensah – a Fellow of the NAI and one of its only three Black members of its 167 inventors who holds over seven U.S.A. patent, and Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu; Group Lead and Robotics Engineer at the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Fellow of the United Kingdom’s IET and the Royal Aeronautical Society, also designer of the Mars Rover Lander. Dr. Trebi-Ollennu’s current research focuses on Planetary Rovers.

“I think everyone present at the event was really happy to see the opportunity for a bright future for these young children. We hope this excitement plays a major role in raising Scholastic Aptitude tests and interest in STEM for young African Americans in the USA and young black people all over the world” Dr. Mensah said.

A total of 82 young people from respective schools in nation’s Capital got lucky to have these two leading Scientists in Robotics and Drone technology on hand to do hands-on demonstrations of some of these sophisticated technologies. The other elite personalities present were Dr. Edward Tunstel; Designer of Mars Lander Robot at NASA who is also a Howard University Alumnus and now Senior Roboticist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

The rest are Fernando Hernandez; Director at Microsoft Supplier Diversity who formulated Microsoft’s $2 billion supplier diversity strategic 3-year plan, and Bill Blackwelder; President at Delta Southern Space UAS, a firm specializing in unmanned aerial systems and platforms in the agricultural industry in the U.S.A.

Dr. Mensah said after the event that “it was exciting to see these young students, some of the children in their third grade, interact with Scientists, Engineers and Inventors as well as older students from the all female Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia, U.S.A. who placed 3rd in a national robotics competition at Microsoft in November 2014. The Spelman ladies were on hand to demonstrate the Humanoid Robot they had built nicknamed ‘spice‘. The High Schoolers were also impressed by the commercial drone shown by Bill Blackwell.”

The entire program was recorded by WHUT; the Howard University Television Station according to Dr. Garry L. Harris -Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies – who opened the Interdisciplinary Research Building IRB Facility for the Forum.

According to NNPA Foundation chairman Al McFarlane, who expressed gratitude to Dr. Thomas Mensah who pulled the STEM Initiative together, the ‘STEM Reach 2020’ Initiative engages nearly 200 NNPA media houses to project a national discussion and expand awareness about the importance of STEM education with support from the American Petroleum Institute (API), lead sponsor, Microsoft, and other corporate and government supporters.

“Our mission is to illuminate the pipeline to greatness for Black student scholars in the field of technology and innovation.,” McFarlane said. “We are changing the narrative about who we are as a people, by revealing the legacy of substance and greatness to the Black Press of America’s 20 million readers and to the world at large.” For further information, contact Al McFarlane of the NNPA Foundation with

Source: Oral Ofori of

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