National Society of Black Engineers Leads Path to GM – Leah Miller

Dec 17, 2013 2:45 PM ET
Campaign: GM Diversity


I spent the summer after high school doing research in Ann Arbor that in hindsight helped shaped my path to General Motors.

As a recent graduate from a small private high school in Memphis, Tennessee (my graduating class had 52 people) and a member of the incoming freshman class of the College of Engineering (CoE) at the University of Michigan (UofM), I was both excited and nervous to be joining such a large, new student body.

The summer research opportunity was part of a program that matched talented engineering freshmen with research jobs. I was assigned a mentor and a project in the CoE’s Automotive Laboratory and the rest is history.

When I was not working in the lab, I was participating in campus resource tours and other seminars from key staff members at the university. However, as useful and interesting as these events were, one social highlight of the summer program was the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) BBQ sponsored by the organization’s UofM chapter. Many of the summer program student volunteers were members or leaders of the chapter and therefore helped market the benefits of joining the organization. This began my still evolving relationship with NSBE.

In my freshman and sophomore years at Michigan, I was an active member in the NBSE-UM chapter and eventually joined the Junior Executive Board as the Vice President. Not only did I gain valuable teamwork and leadership skills, but being a part of NSBE provided me with opportunities to critique my resume, complete mock interviews and interact with campus recruiters outside of the formal CoE Career Fair. Membership in NSBE also provided a smaller, family-like atmosphere within the larger community of Michigan.  For my junior year, I was voted in as the chapter’s Treasurer, thus affording me another leadership opportunity, as well as the opportunity to manage a budget of about $45,000.

Outside of Michigan activities, I also attended NSBE Regional Conferences for Region IV (The Mother Region) and the National Conferences. Conference experiences were truly unique and always had a high return on investment. The National Board members and guest speakers were always inspiring and there were thousands of networking opportunities with people who wanted to support your growth and development as an engineer. I definitely credit the networking and recruiting activities at NSBE conferences for several of my student internships and for bringing me into GM as an intern and then again as a full time hire within the Global Battery Systems Engineering organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about NSBE and hearing from others directly involved in the program, I encourage you to check out anupcoming regional conference. For more insight on the organization, check out this story from my colleague Charles Muse.

Leah N. Miller is a Hybrid Battery Test Engineer at GM’s Global Battery Systems Laboratory in Warren, Michigan. Prior to her current role, she worked as a Battery Data Analysis Engineer, analyzing hybrid battery usage data from GM’s eAssist vehicles. Leah holds a B.S.E in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and is currently a M.B.A Candidate at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.