Category Archives: College of Engineering

Family’s engineering legacy a part of TSU upcoming commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  When it comes to earning an engineering degree from Tennessee State University, the Buford family isn’t settling for just one—they are aiming for three. Shawn Buford will proudly graduate with her master’s, while her son, Joshua Buford, will receive his undergraduate degree, accounting for two of the degrees. The mother and son duo will participate in TSU’s upcoming Spring Commencement ceremonies, with The School of Graduate Studies on Friday, May 3, followed by the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, May 4. The two, along with family and friends, will celebrate their academic milestone just one day apart from each other. 

Left to right, Joshua, Shawn and Christopher II Buford all are set to have degrees in engineering from TSU.

“It feels incredible,” Shawn said, as she prepares to receive her master’s degree in data science with a 4.0 GPA.

“It shows that you never get too old to go back to school. This is a family affair. Don’t ever let fear or insecurity keep you from what you’re doing because you’ll be missing out on your blessing.”

Shawn started her collegiate journey with a degree in chemistry nearly 30 years ago from Hampton University. The Brooklyn, New York, native and mom decided to go back to school after discovering that TSU had launched a new data science program in 2022.

Joshua, who is set to receive his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering on May 4 with a 3.7 GPA, picked up his cap and gown alongside his mother this week, both graduating with honors.

He stated that the duo graduating together wasn’t planned.

“I’m really proud of her,” Joshua said. “I know school has been something that she has enjoyed, and just getting to see her dream fulfilled is exciting. I’m happy to witness her live out her dream and walk across the stage, and then I get to walk the next day. It’s an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get to have.”

Meanwhile, the Bufords’ eldest son, Christopher Buford II, prepares to join the ranks next semester when he obtains his master’s in engineering. He and his mother Shawn began their journey together in 2022 when the pair both started the master’s program.

Shawn and Joshua Buford collect their graduation attire at the TSU bookstore. The mother-son duo, both engineering graduates, achieved honors this semester. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

“We’ve been very supportive of each other, and we just go home and get to talk about our experiences after classes,” Christopher said. “And then we just do work together because we need that support. So, it’s been an amazing experience.”

Christopher, who previously earned his undergraduate degree from TSU, is set to receive his master’s in mechanical engineering next semester. He shared that witnessing his mother’s return to school, alongside his younger brother, has inspired him to consider pursuing his Ph.D. at TSU in the near future.

“It’s been very motivating because I look at what my mom and Josh are doing, and it’s the fact that we’re getting our education from an HBCU,” Christopher said. “TSU has so many great opportunities here.”

The trio were all also inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society at TSU.

Both of Shawn’s sons gravitated to STEM due to her chemistry background, but with their father, Christopher Sr., being a 1992 TSU alumnus, it was an obvious decision to attend the school that was right in their backyard.

College of Engineering Associate Dean Catherine Armwood-Gordon revealed that TSU has graduated over 600 students from the College of Engineering from 2018 -2022. According to Zippa there are currently over 228,900 engineers employed in the United States and only 3 percent of engineers identify as African American.

Shawn said she looks forward to walking the stage and turning around to watch her sons follow suit to all be a part of increasing that 3.3 percent. “We helped each other, encouraged each other, and supported one another during this journey,” she said. “And as a non-traditional student, I didn’t know how the students in this generation were going to receive me. But the TSU students are incredibly smart, polite, and embrace me. So, it’s been such an incredible experience.”

Dr. Lin Li, the dean of engineering, praised the family’s dedication to education, stating, “The Buford family’s commitment to academic excellence is truly inspiring and reflects the values of TSU’s engineering program. Congratulations to the Buford family as we look forward to their return for yet another engineering degree.”

Shawn said she looks forward to returning to TSU to pursue another master’s degree with an end goal of teaching STEM education. While Joshua looks forward to kicking off his engineering career this year.

United States Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and President Glenda Glover will be taking the stage as the keynote speakers for the 2024 Spring Commencement ceremonies. Senator Warnock will address graduate students on Friday, May 3, at the Gentry Center Complex. The ceremony begins at 5 p.m. President Dr. Glover will address undergraduate students the following morning, May 4, at 8 a.m. in Hale Stadium. TSU will live stream both ceremonies at www.tnstate.edu/livestream.

TSU Aviation Program receives $500,000 grant from FAA

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University aviation program is expected to reach new heights with a recent $500,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The grant will be used to enhance the TSU aviation program by attracting and training students for careers not only as pilots but aviation maintenance technicians with hands-on experience and more.

Dr. Ivan Mosley, Chair of the Department of Applied and Industrial Technology expressed his excitement for the impact this grant will have on students. Mosely is the principal investigator (PI) for the grant.

TSU administrators and engineering faculty joins FAA representatives who presented a $500,000 maintenance grant to TSUs aviation program. (Courtesy of Tennessee State University)

“This will impact our students for the overall profession of aviation networking which includes but not limited to maintenance, airport management, air traffic controller, and more,” Mosley said. “So, this particular grant is exposing them to the maintenance portion of the networking.”

The FAA maintenance grant represents a significant milestone for TSU. Dr. Mosley said that even if students don’t pursue a four-year degree, they can receive a certification through the program, providing an affordable and accessible route to network not only in Nashville and surrounding states, but throughout the United States and abroad.

“This grant will attract people to aviation and give them hands-on experience for those who want to pursue it.”

TSU administrators and engineering faculty joined FAA representatives for the check presentation during their visit to TSU. This included Dr. Mosley, alongside Dr. Lin Li, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Quincy Quick, Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs, Dr. Carlos D. Beane, Co-PI and Aviation Assistant Professor, Dr. Catherine Armwood-Gordon, Engineering Associate Professor, and Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff to the President.

Dr. Lin Li stated that the College of Engineering is very excited about this FAA workforce grant. “Through this grant, we will develop comprehensive education initiatives to bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application, with a focus on increasing underrepresented and minority students within the aviation maintenance workforce,” Li said.

The initiative includes recruitment, instruction by experienced aviation instructors, development of aviation maintenance courses, academic career counseling and more.

“The grant will support up to 20 students to receive FAA scholarships to pursue their degree study toward aviation maintenance,” Dr. Li said.

“It will attract future students for the aviation management program in the AIT department. State-of-the-art equipment will be provided through the grant, increasing the training capacity of TSU in aviation maintenance technical training.”

In addition to the academic benefits, the program will host the High Flight Academy starting June 1, offering underrepresented students ages 16 -18 a chance to get certified as pilots.

With this grant effort, TSU is set to play a critical l role in shaping a skilled and underrepresented workforce in aviation maintenance, contributing to the industry’s growth while ensuring aircraft safety and reliability.

To learn more about TSUs aviation program, visit www.tnstate.edu/ait/aviationflight.aspx

TSU’s College of Engineering looks for success with $2.25 Million NSF Grant for first-year students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Ethopine Choping always wanted to build a home for her East African single mother of two. Choping initially wanted to become an architect, but thought, why design the structure of her mother’s home when she can build dams and bridges for the entire city she’d live in?

“Coming from a disadvantaged community is what inspired me to become an engineer.”

An engineering professor assisting a student during an in class assignment.

Choping’s family moved to the United States from Ethiopia in the late 1990s. She later moved to Tennessee to start her college journey at Tennessee State University in 2021 to pursue a degree in civil engineering. She will be graduating in spring 2024.

“The faculty is the reason why I decided to come to TSU,” she said. “They are so dedicated. That’s what convinced me to go to TSU, and my first semester experience is what convinced me to stay.”

Choping recalls returning to TSU the following year, but many of her classmates did not due to the rigorous academic curriculum and financial obligation. 

Ethiopine Choping presenting a study of photoelastic effect in zinc.

These are two of the reasons Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering is continuing its commitment to fostering a community of budding first-year engineering students. Earlier this year the college received a $2.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation to continue this endeavor. The grant will create a five-year pilot engineering curriculum that includes a pre-engineering program and an immersive engineering studio dedicated to undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), focused on student retention and graduation. College of Engineering Associate Professor Catherine Armwood-Gordon said the college is excited about providing scholarships to first-year students through the grant. 

“We’re looking at ways to support students’ progression through their mathematics and success in the first term,” Dr. Armwood said, noting that she is grateful to be able to provide students with scholarships and resources to excel. 

 Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Ph.D. Graduate student Brandon Jones, center, and Engineering student Marvellous Eromosele.

The focus on student retention also extends to the female population within the College of Engineering department.

According to Dr. Armwood, who also serves as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, TSU has graduated over 600 students from the College of Engineering from Spring 2018 -2022. Yet fewer than half of these graduates were women pursing engineering degrees. Currently, there are over 228,900 engineers employed in the United States. Only 13.7% of all engineers are women, according to Zippia. 

Alexia Brown, a TSU freshman studying mechanical engineering, said she looks forward to being a part of the 13% female engineering population post-graduation.

Camron Henderson

“It’s empowering to see women succeeding regardless of the industry,” Brown, of Jackson, MS, said. “It pushes me to finish my degree and to continue on this path.”

As a first-year college student, Brown started college just last month and said she already feels like she’s right at home.

“Everything has been really well,” she said. “I love my classes, and I love my professors.” She also noted that she is excited about the college receiving grants for first-year students as the overall goal is to enhance the retention and success of students in engineering programs at TSU.

Funds from the first-year student grant will be able to support the engineering population growth by awarding more than 80 students a year.

TSU freshman Camron Henderson, a computer science major from Atlanta, said he has hopes that the freshman student grant will be resourceful for out-of-state students like himself. “I’m very happy to know the university has received this grant,” Henderson said. “It will bring more retention to the college.” Henderson is the freshman class treasurer and said his time at TSU, ‘so far has been great,” stating that he loves his teachers as well.

Alexia Brown

TSU grad Tupac Moseley is currently pursuing a master’s in computer and information systems engineering at TSU and said the college is worthy of the $2.25 million investment. “I hope that students, after me, have an even better experience. This will help them transition smoothly into the college of engineering.

This department was extraordinarily helpful throughout my senior year,” he said. “The college cares about me and it only felt right to come back to TSU to pursue my next degree.” This is the third time the National Science Foundation has provided an Implementation Project grant to the university. The first two grants were approximately $1 million each.

Tupac Moseley is currently pursuing a master’s in computer and information systems engineering at TSU

A STEM Enhancement Institute is also being established as part of the grant to provide support to students who struggle with their STEM courses in their pre-engineering program. $150,000 per year will go toward the STEM institute.

To learn more about TSU’s engineering programs, visit www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.

TSU’s College of Engineering receives $2.25 million grant for incoming first year students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering is committed to fostering a community of budding first year engineer students and has received a monetary boost to continue this endeavor. This year the college has been awarded a $2.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will go into effect fall 2023.

Elijah Rachell, left, mechanical and manufacturing engineering undergraduate student, Christopher Buford, center, Master Graduate student in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Akiya Harris, a Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering senior during a summer camp.

The grant will create a five-year pilot engineering curriculum that includes a pre-engineering program and an immersive engineering studio based on course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), aiming to focus on student retention and graduation at Tennessee State University.

TSU alumnus Malik City, who earned his engineering degree from the university in 2020, says that the rigorous TSU program played a pivotal role in his current success within his company.

City, is a software development engineer for Amazon.

“When I look back, I don’t have any regrets. I have been fortunate to be in this field that has changed the lives of myself and my family,” City said.

“The same courses that may discourage first year students are the same courses that many successful engineers had challenges with. The first year student grant is huge because the extra support is needed.”

A STEM Enhancement Institute will also be established this fall as part of the grant to provide support to students who struggle with their STEM courses in their pre-engineering program. $150,000 per year will go towards the STEM institute.

TSU alumnus Malik City

College of Engineering Interim Dean, Professor Lin Li, who is the principal investigator of the grant, said the grant will support more than 80 students a year. “For year one students, we want to prepare them with stronger math and physics,” Li said. “So we proposed a pre-engineering program. This way, we help the students so they can move on to their second year for their engineering career.”

The overall goal is to enhance the retention and success of students in engineering programs at TSU through innovative practices and interdisciplinary research.

College of Engineering Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies Catherine Armwood-Gordon, Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Charles McCurry, and Dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences Nolan McMurray are co-principal investigators for the grant.

A group of graduate and undergraduate engineering students working together during a 2023 summer camp.

Armwood-Gordon echoed the efforts of the grant in helping the university better understand the needs of freshmen engineering students. “It allows us to better understand what our retention rates are for the incoming freshmen that are not taking calculus one, to getting them through calculus one and retaining them to graduation.”

Dean McMurray emphasized that the program’s significant grant will propel the university to the forefront of HBCU engineering programs.

“This award will go a long way in preparing our students at TSU to become stronger engineering students,” he said.

This is the third time the National Science foundation has provided the Implementation Project grant: Enhancement of CUREs-based Curriculum and Immersive Engineering Studio to Enhance Engineering Education and Retention of Underrepresented Engineers, to the university.

According to Li, the first two previous awarded grants were approximately $1 million each. He also noted that the college of engineering is grateful for the additional funds this year as the project aims to create a pipeline of trained undergraduate students with various engineering analysis and design skills.

To learn more about TSU’s engineering programs, visit www.tnstate.edu/engineering/ .

TSU Alumni provide Scholarships for engineering students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Former Tennessee State University graduates are paying it forward for the next generation of engineers. The TSU Engineering Alumni Association (TSUEAA) has awarded academic scholarships to 12 talented undergraduate and graduate students. The College of Engineering Alumni Scholarship Endowment (ASE) is twofold, the investment not only relieves a financial burden, but also ensures that current students achieve their overall goal of graduating.

Warona Mdlulwa, who is a junior studying engineering, said she is grateful to be an ASE recipient. “Receiving the TSU Engineering Alumni Association Scholarship has not only lightened my financial burden but has also provided me with renewed motivation and confidence to pursue my academic and career goals, ” Mdlulwa said. “This recognition serves as a testament to my hard work and dedication, and it reassures me that my efforts have not gone unnoticed.”

The TSUEAA President, Sherrill Toran, said the selected applicants were granted a range of $1,000 – $3,000.

“The scholarship is essential for our students because it helps them understand that there is a financial barrier, but there is support for them,” Toran said. “It’s important for them to continue their educational endeavors and move on to their global careers.”

Kamren James, a senior who is also a scholarship recipient, said he is honored and that this scholarship opportunity will allow him to focus on his studies even more. “This scholarship will go a long way in helping me to achieve my academic and career goals,” James said. “It will allow me to focus on my studies and reduce the financial burden.”

Toran noted that the students had to submit essays regarding their engineering aspirations and community efforts as part of the selection process.

The association is set to have a scholarship recipient reception in the fall. Toran told the university that the organization will also have a professional development seminar showcasing how to apply for scholarships, requirements with proper documentation, and expectations. The TSUEAA is continuously raising additional funds for the next cycle of academic scholarships. The new applications portal for Fall 2023 opens on July 1 to align with getting funds in accounts prior to the academic semester beginning.

“People come here to get an education,” Toran said. “And we want to continue to invest in our students.”

If you are interested in the academic scholarship, email Toran at [email protected]. If you’d like to donate to the ASE campaign, click here. For more information about the College of engineering visit www.tnstate.edu/engineering/

The College of Engineering Alumni Scholarship Endowment recipients: 

Christopher Buford II, first year graduate student; Jose Portillo, First year graduate student; Kayla Wallace, Graduating senior – Dec. 2023; Anthony Wheeler, Graduating senior – Dec. 2023; Michael Stevens, Graduating senior – Dec. 2023; Zackee Dosky, Senior; Kamren James, Senior; Lakeesa Gilyard, Senior; Kasi Cost Junior; Warona Mdlulwa, Junior; Tamuari Murray, Junior; Marvellous Eromosele, Sophomore.

TSU engineering program gets major boost from Turner Construction Company

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Turner Construction Company awarded three $15,000 scholarships for engineering students and will fund $65,000 to the department in Tuition Assistance Program grants to qualified students. TSU and Turner have partnered in efforts to support STEM students, and specifically those majoring in engineering.  A check presentation and roundtable discussion were held to highlight the partnership.  

More than 50 students attended along with TSU President Glenda Glover, executives from the company, and alumni in engineering. In addition to the scholarships, roundtable discussion focused on internships, career opportunities in the field of engineering and HBCU impact.   

The three scholarship winners of Turner award are:  Gregory Hobbs, Havilah Akachukwu and Ethiopine Choping.

Gregory Hobbs, left, Havilah Akachukwu, center, and Ethiopine Choping, right, were awarded $15,000 scholarships from Turner Construction Company. (Photo by Alexis Clark)

Akachukwu, a junior from Nigeria majoring in Mechanical Engineering, said she is thankful for the awarded funds and thought the overall event was amazing. 

“To be able to see people in the industry take out time from their busy schedules to be there, just to talk about ways in which we, the students in engineering could help ourselves was wonderful,” Akachukwu said.  She looks forward to one day becoming a design engineer and thanked Turner for believing in the university as majority of the panelists were either HBCU or TSU graduates. 

“For the efforts they have put into our school and the students, I am grateful. They were all lovely and tried their best to communicate and interact with every student present.” Choping, a civil engineering major from Alaska, was shocked when she was notified about the scholarship and mentioned how informative the event was.  

“I learned that there are different paths to take to be successful and each path is unique,” Choping said. “As long as you’re putting in effort, you will get the results you want.” 

Hobbs, an Architectural Engineering major from Alabama, said that he prayed about receiving the scholarship to help cut cost of his tuition. 

“The Turner Company event was wonderful,” Hobbs said. “The speakers provided a lot of insight on making it through school and choosing the correct career path. They spoke on managing school, personal life, and mental health.” Hobbs said the panelist assured him how much TSU alumni take care of one another and appreciated the insight. 

Students, TSU President Glenda Glover, and engineering department staff listens during roundtable discussion from Turner panelists about career goals in the field and HBCU impact. (Photo by Alexis Clark)

“I learned that TSU is a family,” Hobbs said. Everyone wants you to succeed and are willing to help you.” 

Charles Stewart, Vice President, Diverse Recruiting and Outreach, said the program is about, “the development of the student, helping the university enhance their pipeline and develop their students to be prepared to step out in the communities where we work every day, and be able to work with companies like ours.” 

TSU graduate Jimmie Jones, told the students that the foundation of being able to be his true self at the university is one of the reasons he is a superintendent at Turner now. “The biggest things I received from here (TSU) is the support from my peers.” 

Charles Stewart speaks about his company experience and program efforts. (Photo by Bethany Legg)

Dr. Catherine Armwood-Gordon, Interim Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, said having TSU and HBCU alumni as part of the panel was a great way to show representation. 

“It allows students to relate and form relationships with people in the industry and company who at one point were exactly where they are now,” Armwood-Gordon said. “Allowing them to see the possibilities of their future with their degrees and understand that the time, commitment, and rigorousness of the degree will pay off in the end. The College of Engineering is grateful for Turner Construction Company investing in our students by providing scholarships and support to student activities and engagement.” 

Along with Jones, panelist Don Hardin Jr., and the event moderator Susan Vanderbilt, are all TSU alumni. Vanderbilt is the executive director and owner of Entrée Savvy, LLC, while Hardin is the owner of Don Hardin Group, the firm that designed and constructed the National Museum of African American Music located downtown.

The panel also included Stewart, Valarie Franklin, a Senior Associate/Client Relationship Manager for Moody Nolan, and the companies Lead Estimator, Cerise Inganji.

TSU a family affair for triplets as incoming freshmen 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It may be a little overwhelming to walk a 500-arce university campus as an incoming freshmen, especially when you are hours away from home. But luckily, the Howell triplets will have each other to lean on as they embark on a new journey this fall at TSU. 

The Howell triplets – Mya, Walter Jr., and James of Louisville, Kentucky, had several acceptance letters from schools across the country. But when the trio toured the TSU campus last summer, they knew they were right at home. 

“Automatically when we walked on campus it felt like home,” James said. “I fell in love with it and thought it was a great school.” 

The Howell triplets are attending the university on scholarship and spent the first hours on campus for TSU’s traditional Freshmen Move-In.  

The Howell triplets moved into their dorms Tuesday morning and are excited for their new journey at TSU. Photo by Aaron Grayson.

Mya, who is the oldest by a minute, is majoring in exercise science to become a physical therapist. While her brothers are engineering majors. Walter said he knew it was the right decision when he researched the college of engineering program, noting that he wanted to attend an HBCU. Despite a few of their acceptance letters being at different colleges, they didn’t think twice about going their separate ways. “It felt natural to stay together,” Mya said. 

While they are a little nervous to leave home, they know their parents are a phone call away. 

For Walter Sr., and Ethel Howell, shipping the triplets off to college is more than bittersweet. 

“There will be a huge void with them not being around daily.” The parents said. “My prayer is that TSU embraces them just as we have. By giving them the guidance and structure just as if they were living at home. We are extremely proud of all their accomplishments.” 

The Howell family during freshmen move in day. Photo by Aaron Grayson.

Academically, Walter Sr. said the triplets have been preparing for this very moment. “They have all of the tools they need in this life to be productive and successful young adults,” he said. 

“We have no doubt that our faith and their determination will take them to higher heights.” 

The Office of First Year Students will also help the trio adjust to college life. Staff members work closely with new students to ensure their success through academic advisement and campus services. The Howell triplets are a part of the record setting freshmen class that have registered for the fall. TSU is expecting over 2,000 first year students to begin the academic school year.

The University has delayed the beginning of classes to accommodate the large freshmen move-in. TSU is now accepting applications for fall 2023. For more information, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/apply/  

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU’s aviation program breaking barriers to increase number of black commercial, Air Force Pilots

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Mateo Lannaman’s dream was to be a pilot and fly high across the sky. With lack of funding and without a clear path, he didn’t know where to turn, until he met a mentor in flight training at Rising Aviation who gave him an advice that would change the young man’s life forever. 

Mateo Lannaman, second from left, a first-time freshman from Dallas, Texas, will major in aviation management to fulfill a dream of becoming an airline pilot. Pictured are l-r: Dr. William Smith, Assistant Director of Admissions; Mateo, his sister Milan, mother Senia, and dad Derrick Lannaman. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“He told me about Tennessee State University and the outstanding aviation program there,” Lannaman said. “He said there were scholarships for qualified students who were interested.” Lannaman took his mentor’s advice and applied. He was accepted with a full scholarship to study aviation management as a concentration in the Department of Applied and Industrial Technologies in the College of Engineering. The program is certified to train commercial pilots.  

“I am really impressed so far from what I have seen and the family atmosphere,” said the Rock Hill High School graduate, after meeting the dean and few staff of the College of Engineering during a campus tour Thursday with his family. 

Dr. Lin Li, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, says the aviation management program is a pipeline to grow the number of minorities in the industry. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

With the low number of black commercial and Air Force pilots in the nation, Lannaman comes into an aviation program that is seeing tremendous growth thanks to a vigorous recruitment effort, outstanding faculty, and a long partnership with the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) detachment at the university.  

“We have a long relationship with the AFROTC through many programs that are benefiting the College of Engineering and our aviation and aeronautics programs,” said Dr. Lin Li, interim dean of the college. He said the goal of the aviation program is to help increase the number of pilots in the country, especially African Americans. Currently, only about 2.6 percent commercial pilots are African Americans, while only about 6 percent African Americans are in aviation management positions. The number is even more dismal for the U.S. Air Force, where less than 2 percent of pilots are African Americans.  

Lt. Col. Michael Wilson, right, of AFROTC Detachment 790 at TSU, greets Cadet Jaiden Walker, a sophomore political science major, who wants to be an officer in the Air Force. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“The purpose of our aviation management program is really to create a pipeline to grow the number of minorities in the industry,” Li said. Through their collaboration, Li said the college and AFROTC have stepped up their effort in recruitment by talking to area high school juniors and seniors. Some initiatives include dual enrollment programs that offer college credit.  There is also a 2+2 program with Motlow State Community College, where students majoring in applied and industrial technology taught by TSU professors, can transfer to the university at the end of their two years and complete their four-year degree at TSU. An aviation summer camp for 20 high school students is also planned for 2023, Li said. Participants will receive 45 hours, including flying hours, using simulators and lecture hours.   

“We hope this will get students interested in gaining firsthand experience in becoming a pilot,” Li added.  

Lt. Col. Michael Wilson is an assistant professor of aerospace studies with AFROTC Detachment 790 at TSU. He said the partnership with the College of Engineering is reaping mutual benefits by attracting the best engineering students to the Air Force as well as working with the college to enhance its aviation program.  

“We are working with the College of Engineering, and they are doing a phenomenal job at developing the aviation program,” Wilson said. “The Air Force is inherently in the air. And we develop aviators, and we develop pilots, and we develop training. They have the skill set necessary in the engineering world. So, we help each other in that regard.” Wilson said in addition to recruitment initiatives, the college is receptive to the creation of a living learning community on campus, where engineering students that are in the AFROTC will have a block of rooms to live and learn together. 

“This way they hold each other accountable for their studies, make sure they get up in the morning to come do PT, and be where they need to be for all of their classes or all of their studies,” he said.  

Currently, eight TSU students are part of a cohort of 65 recruits from institutions across Middle Tennessee who are part of the AFROTC detachment at TSU. Cadet Jaiden Walker, a sophomore political science major, is one of them. The Selma, Alabama, native said his goal is to become an officer in the Air Force. He credits a substitute teacher in the 8th grade with getting him interested in the Air Force.  

“He always talked about his experience (in the Air Force) and things he did,” Walker said. “So, when I went to high school, I joined the JROTC, which gave me the opportunity to receive a scholarship.” He said he had the choice of going to any HBCU, but he chose TSU, where he once visited during a college tour.  

“That was a very memorable tour for me. Everything just seemed to align well, the fit was right, I enjoyed the people,” he added.  

Li said he is working with AFROTC for more scholarships to help interested students defray the cost of the aviation program, as well as developing marketing tools such as billboards, to increase awareness of the program.  

“One of our biggest challenges in the College of Engineering is that we have limited pilot instructors. So, that’s an area where AFROTC can also help because they have the facilities and the resources,” Li said.  

For more information on the TSU Aviation Management program, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/ait/aviationflight.aspx  

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU students among brightest minds selected for Thurgood Marshall College Fund Inaugural Apple Engineering & Innovation Program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Three Tennessee State University students have been selected to participate in the inaugural class of Apple’s Engineering & Innovation (E&I) Program. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announced that Derrion Boyce, Ashleigh Thomas and Tenille Cochran are the TSU Apple Scholars for the program.

All showed their gratitude for the scholarship award of $15,000 for the academic school year.

Derrion Boyce

Boyce, a first-generation college student and rising senior majoring in electrical engineering, said the Apple HBCU Scholars award allows him to have a seamless journey to obtaining his degree.

“This scholarship has given me more hope, and less worry about college,” Boyce said. The Chicago, Illinois, native said he looks forward to becoming a prominent figure and role model at TSU as he will take full advantage of the scholarship opportunity. “I really appreciate the opportunity given to me to help pay for my education, that will help my future.”

Ashleigh Thomas


Ashleigh Thomas of Suwanee, Georgia, who is a computer science major, also stated that the opportunity has motivated her to continue thriving and finish off her last year in college strong.

“Being an Apple scholar has motivated me to remain focused on obtaining my degree,” Thomas said. “It has given me the confidence that I will one day be an innovator as Apple has been to people and the world.”

Professor and Interim Dean of Civil Engineering Dr. Lin Li said the innovative program will prepare the students to become the next generation of diverse leaders.

“It is such great support to three TSU students with the inaugural class of Apple’s E & I Program,” Dr. Li said.

Rising junior and Nashville native Tenille Cochran, who is an architectural engineering major said she was shocked when she received recognition from TMCF and Apple.

Tenille Cochran

“To be acknowledged for my accomplishments as an undergraduate student, it has given me confidence and broaden my perspective regarding my personal and professional development,” Cochran said.

“It helped me realize that all I needed was courage, effort, and confidence to achieve my goals. I can’t express how much the Apple Scholars program changed my life.”

President & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Dr. Harry L. Williams said The E&I Scholars are recognized as among the best in the country. “With the support of Apple, we look forward to advancing and elevating the critical importance of science and automation in preparing tomorrow’s tech leaders,” he said.

In total, 43 Apple E&I Scholars were selected from applicants from engineering programs at America’s publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs).

The Apple Engineering & Innovation Program is an initiative designed to equip the next generation of Black tech leaders through financial assistance, access to training and professional development experiences, and real-world skill application. The program will also allow scholars to engage in technical learning opportunities and participate in sessions led by Apple executives and industry leaders, according to a report from TMCF.

Apple Engineering & Innovation Scholars will also have opportunities to secure internships and full-time employment after graduation.

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs. TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF, visit http://www.tmcf.org> www.tmcf.org<http://www.tmcf.org.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu<http://www.tnstate.edu/>.




From graduation to employment, TSU graduates secure top jobs with fortune 500 companies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The experience, success and or job stability are just a few of many reasons behind attending college. At TSU, many of the undergraduates did just that by successfully landing employment in their industry before walking across the stage. From Microsoft to Bank of America, here are four Spring 2022 graduates who landed top-paying jobs with fortune 500 companies.

Davarious Thompson accepted a full-time job offer last fall as a project engineer assistant with one of the largest domestic contractors in the United States, Turner Construction Company. Thompson of Memphis, Tennessee, received a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering from the College of engineering. When he first enrolled at TSU, he was unsure of what career path he wanted to take. That’s when he decided to utilize his resources on campus.

Davarious Thompson accepted a full-time job offer as a project engineer assistant with Turner Construction Company. (Photo submitted)

“The career development center gave me that extra push,” Thompson said. Upon arrival, an employee from the career development center told Thompson to close his eyes and envision the person he wanted to become and a career path he truly wanted to follow.

“The first thing I said was … build a building or designing.” That’s when Thompson got on track with the engineering program.  “I fell in love with it.” Thompson will start his new position located in his hometown on June 16, earning around $80,000. Thomas said his 2019 internship at General Motors, his senior capstone project, and overall TSU experience is what led him to the amazing opportunity.

As for Aliyah Muhammad, she is still in shock about the job offered she accepted as a software developer for Bank of America.

Muhammad of Mount Juliet, Tennessee, received a degree in computer science and is moving to Dallas, Texas, for her new career in June. She will be earning $88,000. “It’s been a long time,” Muhammad said, noting that she was initially a biology major.

Aliyah Muhammad accepts job offer as software developer for Bank of America. (Photo submitted)

“But it was definitely worth it.”

The first-generation college graduate accepted the job in December and said that the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) program, is what assisted her on the journey. “It’s so surreal,” she said. “I am really excited to start the next chapter of my life. TSU was awesome and I am very grateful.” As Muhammad is in disbelief of her outstanding accomplishments, Shaun Anderson of Lexington, Kentucky, said his graduation experience was bittersweet.

Anderson is a recent graduate who received a degree in marketing. During his time at TSU, Anderson became a United Negro College Fund scholar and traveled to D.C. for a leadership seminar, an event that set him up for success, he said.

“Being in that room … and being an African American male at a HBCU is unheard of,” Anderson said. “Being in that setting is great.” Anderson interned with Spectrum in 2021 and the rest was history. “Once I did a good job the first summer … they invited me for a full-time position.”

Shaun Anderson accepts offer with Charter Communications as a marketing analytics specialist. (Photo submitted)

Starting July 6, Anderson will be taking his talents to Charlotte, North Carolina, working for Spectrum/ Charter Communications as their marketing analytics specialist, earning $85,000.

In just a few weeks, Amiya Ingram will be a part of the 5.7% of African American employees representing Microsoft within the United States.

Ingram of Huntsville, Alabama, will be moving to Seattle, Washington, to start her new position as a program manager. She will be working under Microsoft’s marketing and advertising artificial intelligence team.

“It was only God,” the recent TSU graduate said when she applied for the position and received the offer after four rounds of hour-long interviews.

Amiya Ingram accepts offer as a program manager, under Microsoft’s marketing and advertising artificial intelligence team. (Photo submitted)

Ingram, who was the president of the National Society of Black Engineers at TSU, now holds a bachelor’s degree from the college of engineering in computer science. She noted that her contribution towards the organization and members, along with support from the computer science department, has shown her what she is capable of. “That organization (NSBE) creates some of the best talent that the university produces,” she said. “It showed me my own power within myself.”

She stated that helping others keeps her motivated. “It is something so fulfilling about seeing people really thrive in whatever they want to do.”

Ingram landed a six-figure salary and will start her new position on June 20.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.