Bridge to the Doctorate: Where to Apply for 2015

With out a doubt, I attribute a critical part of my success as a doctoral student to Dr. Karen Singmaster and the San Jose State University Louis Stokes of Minority Participation (SJSU LSAMP) program.  The program exposed me and many others to essential information and resources that I use consistently in my current studies. A benefit of being an LSAMP student at any university is the ability to apply to the National Science Foundation LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate. I was afforded the opportunity to attend and receive the Bridge to the Doctorate (BD) at the California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) in 2008 – 2010. The amazing faculty who ran the BD program at CSULA, Dr. Margaret JeffersonDr. Carlos Gutierrez, and Dr. Robles, assisted me with preparing for the rigors of a Ph.D program. The BD program also enabled me to conduct my Masters thesis research in the Brain-Body Dynamics Lab at the University of Southern California under Francisco Valero-Cuevas. The BD program provides the following incentives for two years:

  • Full tuition & Fees
  • $30,000 stipend a year
  • Funding for research supplies and travel
  • Mentoring
  • Workshops & Seminars

To be eligible for the program you will need to have the following:

  • Participated in an LSAMP program at your undergraduate institution
  • Bachelor’s degree in a STEM field
  • Have at least 3.0 GPA
  • Admitted into the respective university the program is being held that year

If you are a STEM major who is very interested in pursuing a Ph.D, graduating in the Spring or Summer 2015, and would like all of the aforementioned perks of BD, I suggest you apply ASAP! If you are currently not part of the LSAMP program at your undergraduate institution, I suggest you google your institutions name with LSAMP, for example, “uf lsamp”, and contact the representative at your University. If you are slightly under a 3.0 GPA, I recommend you still contact the representative of the program you are interested in and express your interest. It would not hurt to have your current LSAMP advisor contact the representative at the program you are interested in also.

One important thing about the BD program that I feel is often missed every year, is publicity of the institutions hosting the program. The program rotates to different universities every year, and it is often hard to find the applications. Below is a comprehensive list (with links) to all of the institutions hosting the program for Fall 2015:

Even if a deadline has passed, I recommend still contacting the people listed on the respective websites. The university may still be accepting applications. Apply ASAP, time is running out!

Conducting A Literature Search: Becoming Familiar With Your Research Area

A common question for many people who first enter the realm of research is, “How do I initiate the journey of becoming an expert in a particular area?” My answer to this is: By spending a lot of time reading! Since time is precious, and I wholeheartedly believe in efficiency, I want to provide you all with some tips that I have learned along the way that can assist you with streamlining the process of conducting a literature search, as this is one of the primary skillsets that you will need to become an expert in your research area. A literature search generates a list of all publications that are relevant to your research area of interest. The search is typically achieved by entering several keywords into a search engine. The Faculty Librarians at Liverpool Hope University define a literature search as, “a systematic and thorough search of all types of published literature in order to identify a breadth of good quality references relevant to a specific topic.”

Click here to read the rest of the blog on The National GEM Consortium website…

March Madness: Deciphering Admission Letters & Selecting The Right Graduate School

March is here and you are anxiously awaiting notification letters about graduate school admission. Have no fear, they are surely on the way! This month’s blog will provide you with information on how to prioritize and select the graduate school that is best suited for your needs. The decision making process outlined in the current blog, in combination with the previous content covered in this blog-series, will ultimately increase the probability of you successfully earning your Ph.D. Previously, we discussed the importance of applying for funding (‘Tis the Season to Apply For Funding), how to develop a list of prospective graduate schools and the graduate school application process (Selecting Your Top 10 Graduate Schools: Apply and Conquer), and what questions to ask during graduate school visits (The Blue Chip Graduate Student: Making the Most of Your Campus Visitation). The prior blogs were meant to prepare you for this pivotal moment: selecting the advisor and academic institution where you will spend the next five to seven years of your life.

Click here to read the rest of the blog on The National GEM Consortium website…

The Blue Chip Graduate Student: Making The Most Of Your Campus Visitation

You applied to your top 10 graduate schools and as you might have experienced already, waiting for admission letters can be just as nerve-racking, if not more, than the application process itself.  February is an awesome month. Not only does the U.S. take the time to learn about Black History and how Black people have impacted the world, but it is also the month universities send out campus visitation letters to their most sought-after students.

When you receive an invite to visit a university’s campus, you officially become a Blue Chip Graduate Student! “Blue Chip” is a sports term that refers to athletes who are amongst the most elite and highly recruited by many universities. Due to the many options available to a Blue Chip, universities invite these students to campus visitations and “role out the red carpet” in order to entice them to select their university. Consider yourself a Blue Chip Graduate Student and be prepared to stroll down the red carpet and be treated like royalty at every university you visit!

Click here to read the rest of the blog on The National GEM Consortium website…

Publishing: Targeting The Right Conferences And Journals

Happy New Year! As we usher in the New Year, it’s customary to set new goals and craft new resolutions. This year, I’m aiming to complete at least two publications by the end of 2015.

However, sorting through the mass of potential journals and conferences and deciding where to submit, proves to be a daunting task. In an attempt to lessen the decision-making burden, I’ve outlined a few tips I’ve designed to help identify the right journals and conferences for you.

Click here to read the rest of the blog on The National GEM Consortium website…

Selecting Your Top 10 Graduate Schools: Apply And Conquer

The end of the semester is fast approaching and a break from the rigors of school is near. However, if you are applying for graduate school, the break will be short-lived due to the graduate school application process.

In this blog, we provide information for creating a personalized Top 10 Graduate School list. The goals of the list is simple: to be well-rounded, versatile, and most importantly personalized. To ensure these goals are met, the list will contain institutions that fit into the following three categories: Dream Schools, Dream Catcher Schools, and Reality Schools.

Click here to read the rest of the blog on The National GEM Consortium website…

’Tis The Season To Apply For Funding

Around this time of year, students are searching for funding sources for graduate schools. While graduate school applications usually fall between December and January, graduate fellowship application deadlines usually run between November and January.

In a previous blog, Road To PhD: Selecting a Graduate School [1], we composed a list for “selecting the BEST graduate school for YOU” which ranked funding as the number one factor in deciding which school to attend. Funding is the main priority because of the countless opportunities it opens up for graduate students. Acquiring your own source of funding increases the pool of universities you can attend, provides freedom with selecting an advisor and project, and relieves the burden of having to work (or work as many hours) while attending school. In this blog we discuss making yourself competitive for the Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) Fellowship as well as other merit-based fellowships.

Click here to read the rest of the blog on The National GEM Consortium website…

How Leaks in the Black Engineering Pipeline Affect Diversity in Industry

By Corey E. Baker and Justin Dunnavant. Pipeline artwork by Hasani McIntosh

(Updated on 8/12/14 to reflect diversity numbers released from Apple)

It’s no secret that Blacks are underrepresented in almost every area of STEM. Universities, non-profit organizations, and the government have all developed programs to try and curb this situation. But how do we begin to address a problem when it’s apparent that the pipeline is broken? Once we recognize where the Black engineering pipeline is leaking, we can begin to repair the structural issues that limit minority access to higher education and affect diversity in industry.

Blacks in Engineering Pipeline

Figure 1: The percentages in the pipeline figure reflect the average (2009-13) percentages Blacks made of the US population for the respective category. For example, an average of 3,323 Black people per year graduated with bachelors degrees which accounted for 4.3% of the US population who graduated with engineering degrees.

Imagine the pipeline as a snapshot of what’s going on today. The beginning of the pipeline shows there are roughly 8 million Black students enrolled in K-12 education [1]. However, the end of the pipeline shows an average (2009-13) of 173 Blacks graduating with doctoral degrees in engineering and computer science each year. With leaks throughout the pipeline, scores of potential Black engineers drop out of the race.

Proficiency in math, literacy, and science by the 4th and 8th grade are some the key causes that prohibit our youth from matriculating through the pipeline [2]. Another contributing factor is the combined household income, or the amount of money made by students parents.

“Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t,” Paul Tough writes in his latest New York Times article.

“Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshman born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 23, while almost 90 percent of freshman born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree…” [3]. Compounded with these economic and educational deficiencies, we mention in Mentoring Our Future: Inspiring Our Youth – Michael Simpson that stereotype threat, or the internalization of academic inferiority, provides an additional hurdle for many underrepresented minorities that can lead to underperformance in the classroom.

In a more positive light, the amount of Blacks awarded degrees in engineering and computer science have steadily increased through the years. In 2013, 5,081 degrees were awarded to Blacks in the field, an increase of 15% since 2009 [4]. But are we increasing fast enough? In 2009, Blacks made up 4.5% of all engineering and computer science degrees awarded to US citizens, but made up 4.3% in 2013. A similar drop can be seen in the percentage of Blacks enrolled in these same degree programs (5.6% in 2009 to 5.2% in 2013). Putting these facts together means that even though the amount of Black engineers have been increasing, they are being outpaced by most other racial and ethnic groups in America (Native Americans have actually shown a significant decrease in enrollment since 2009). In order to diversify engineering and ensure it is more representative of the overall population, we must move the aforementioned percentages in the positive direction and reach parity. Meaning, the amount of degrees enrolled/awarded to Blacks should be more like 12-14% to reflect the US Census data [5 and 6]. To accomplish this difficult mission, we must repair the cracks in the pipeline to retain and promote qualified Black students throughout all stages of the education system.

Industry versus Education

In May of this year, Google was slammed in the media for their poor diversity record. As a result, tech companies have been making a concerted effort to collect and make public their diversity data. While some companies have shown improvements through diversity initiatives, many are still lagging behind, particularly in technical and leadership areas. Some important questions to ask are: what should diversity look like in the work place? And is there a lack of diverse talent for these companies to choose from?

It’s obvious when it comes to diversity, none of these companies reflect the melting pot that is the United States. But how does corporate diversity fair against what’s currently available in the engineering pipeline?


Figure 2: Source – Corporate percentages are from [7-11]. Average engineering degree awarded is derived from ASEE data (2009-13)


The figure above shows the percentage of Blacks in the US in “green”, which is the ideal percentage we would expect a company to have (12.3%). On average Blacks made up 4.4% of all engineering and computer science degrees (bachelors, masters, and phd combined) awarded to US citizens between 2009 and 2013. Using the amount of Blacks in the US and the average amount of engineering degrees awarded per year as benchmarks, we can set two “parity” lines, Population Parity and Degree Parity, respectively.

Currently no company in the figure has reached Population Parity, while Apple, eBay, and HP are the only three companies which have reached Degree Parity. However, these percentages, rounded to the nearest whole number, can be misleading. When these percentages are further deconstructed, we find that only a fraction of Blacks working at these leading companies are employed as technical employees. Instead many of them either hold positions outside of engineering or in unskilled positions. Looking at Figure 3, we see only one company is at Degree Parity, and none at Population Parity. It is also likely the percentages are rounded up, suggesting that less than 1% or 2% of the technical employees at these companies are Black.


Figure 3: Source – Corporate percentages are from [7-11]. Average engineering degree awarded is derived from ASEE data (2009-13)


When it comes to gender diversity, females (all, not just Black) exhibit similar disparities. At first glance, it would appear from Figure 4 that every company has met or, in some cases, significantly exceeded the Degree Parity line (19%), while still falling drastically short of the Population Parity line (51%).


Figure 4: Source – Corporate percentages are from [7-11]. Average engineering degree awarded is derived from ASEE data (2009-13)

Although again, when deconstructing these percentages in Figure 5, we see that Apple and eBay are the only companies which has met Degree Parity, with LinkedIn and Google trailing close behind. Note: Gender percentages from the companies reflect worldwide employment numbers and we didn’t have access US numbers.


Figure 5: Source – Corporate percentages are from [7-11]. Average engineering degree awarded is derived from ASEE data (2009-13)

Thus the question remains, who is responsible for increasing the number of Blacks in the engineering? Or more importantly, who is responsible for ensuring parity is met for all underrepresented minorities?

The answer is, all of us! Universities must do a better job recruiting, retaining, and graduating minority students in engineering. It’s clear that programs and organizations such as GEM, NSBE, Black Girls Code, and the McNair Scholars Program have helped increase the number of Blacks in engineering through education, mentorship, and financial support. Similarly communities, schools, government, and non-profit organizations should align to provide a better educational foundation starting from Kindergarden. Rooted early in K-12 education, these programs are essential in providing Black youth with the math, literacy, and science scores needed to ensure that they are prepared for the rigors of engineering [5]. But tech companies also have the ability to aid in this endeavor. Tech companies can support local projects that raise awareness about career opportunities in engineering, while also hosting programs such as summer camps to introduce students to engineering. Finally, a more thorough review of the recruitment and promotion process for companies is needed to ensure that the culture and environment of these corporations is embracing diversity at all levels of employment.

Will the leaks in the pipeline be fixed? Hopefully, but to ensure that underrepresented minorities are at least at Degree Parity in the next decade. it’s going to take a more concerted effort from both the public and private sectors.


[1] ED Data Express: Data about elementary & secondary schools in the U.S.,

[2] Reid, K, Our Nation Needs to Fix the Breach in the STEM Pipeline (2014), website:

[3] Tough, P, Who gets to graduate (2014), The New York Times

[4] Yoder BL, Engineering By The Numbers (2009-13), American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)

[5] State & County QuickFacts, United States Census Bureau

[6] NACME Data Book 2011 and 2012

[7] Elder J, What Silicon Valley’s Diversity Reports Say About the Tech Workforce (2014), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

[8] Jacobson M, Google finally discloses its diversity record, and it’s not good (2014), PBS News Hour

[9] Van Huysse J, Building a Twitter we can be proud of (2014), Twitter, Inc

[10] Wadors P, LinkedIn’s Workforce Diversity (2014), LinkedIn Official Blog

[11] Williams LC, eBay Releases Strongest Diversity Numbers in Silicon Valley, But They Still Need Work (2014), Think Progress

Featured in ASEE Prism Magazine: Survival Course

African-American males represent a sliver of enrollment. More could succeed in engineering if schools understood what it takes to beat the odds.

…Corey Baker had mentors throughout Alabama State, including math Ph.D. candidates who tried to goad him into following in their footsteps by pointing out how few blacks were in the field. “They knew how to push my buttons,” recalls Baker, now a doctoral candidate himself at the University of Florida. In turn, he became one of Alabama State’s few undergraduate tutors…

Check out the rest of the article here.

Selecting a Graduate School

Watch the video above to see an unscripted discussion between my mentee Chelsea and me. During the discussion, I give Chelsea some important factors she should take into consideration when selecting a graduate school.

Your applications are in, meaning you have completed the hard part! You have: taken the GRE, written your personal statements, paid expensive application fees, and most importantly, fought through senioritis and completed your last semester of your undergraduate career (or almost finished). You are now going through arguably, the two most nervous, most important times of the graduate school application process:

  1. Receiving acceptance/rejection letters, or as I like to refer to them, “reassurance/motivational letters”
  2. Selecting the graduate school that will put you in the best place to flourish

First thing is first, breathe… Know that reading the decision on your “reassurance/motivational letter” only provides insight into the next road in your path, but it DOES NOT dictate your end goal or destination. Now open the letter (or email in 2014) and read! If the letter is an “accept”, place it to your left, gasp, smile, laugh, celebrate, call your parents/friends, tweet, update your Facebook status, etc. If the letter is a rejection letter, do not panic or be upset. Do one of two things with this letter:

  1. Stick the letter on your refrigerator, look at the letter, and say “Thank You For The Motivation!” (I learned this from my friend Mike J)
  2. Shred or throw the letter in the trash and never look at it again

Either way, the “rejection letter” is now your “motivation letter”.

Know that if a particular institution did not accept you, a different path will lead you to your END GOAL.

After your pile of “acceptance letters” is complete, it is time to split this pile into two:

  1. Schools offering funding
  2. Schools not offering funding


One thing to note, I am a strong advocate for selecting the institution/program that is BEST for YOU and YOUR success; not for anybody else, not just based on prestige. Knowing this, I have created the Selecting the BEST Graduate School For YOU List:

  1. Funding
  2. Perceived Advisor/Research Lab Relationship
  3. Supporting Cast
  4. Research
  5. Prestige
  6. Location

Quick disclaimer, I grew up in a military family (Hey Dad!) and have become accustomed to moving around every few years. If you are person who prefers to be around family, “location” should be correlated with “supporting cast” in the Selecting the BEST Graduate School For YOU List. Also note, This blog is tailored towards PhD or STEM majors, but is also relevant to other fields. There will be future blogs aimed specifically at: Non-STEM, MBA (Prestige may be top two on the list, possibly even #1), and Law School.

Selecting a PhD or MS program (this is Information I have gathered over the years. The original person who showed me the graduate school ropes is my mentor Dr. Kim Cross (love you K.Crossover!). I have also gathered a wealth of knowledge from other mentors: Michele Lezama, Dr. Renetta Tull, Dr. Gary May, Dr. Njema Frazier, Dr. Janise McNair, Dr. Reginald Archer, and Dr. Pierre St. Juste). Lets step through the Selecting the BEST Graduate School For YOU List to see what schools make the final cut:

  1. Funding – Only look at your Schools Offering Funding Pile. As a STEM major, you should EXPECT to receive full funding for your PhD. If your number 1 school does not offer you funding, but your 2 – 10 schools do, guess what school has just become your number 10 school? Okay…
    1. Is the school offering you tuition, fees, and a stipend? If not, is the School offering you enough stipend money to offset tuition and fees? If not, put the letter towards the bottom of the Schools Offering Funding Pile
    2. Is the stipend enough to cover cost of living in the respective city? Does it cover this cost after tuition and fees? In my opinion, your stipend should be at least $15,000 a year. Is the school offering free insurance? Place schools that satisfy this criteria towards the top of the Schools Offering Funding Pile

    3. Is the institution offering you a Teaching Assistantship (TA), Research Assistantship (RA), or a hybrid of both? How many hours are you being asked to TA a week? Does the RA say only 20 hours a week? Know that when you truly began your research you will be working at least 40 hours a week.
    4. Are there large differences in the funding amounts in 1 through 3 when cost of living is considered? If there is not, then you can consider these schools on the same priority level for now.
  2. Perceived Advisor/Research Lab Relationship – Now you should have a re-ordered Schools Offering Funding Pile. The next step is arguably the key indicator in predicting the possibility of YOU finishing your doctorate degree. The Perceived Advisor/Research Lab Relationship istheinitial gut feeling you have when you meet/talk to your Advisor and the students in the lab. Know that your Professor is the person you areexpectingto be with for the next 5-6 years. You can consider this a short-term marriage and should put in a large amount of effort before making your decision. Also, the Professors lab will be your Family for the next 5-6 years. You should make some of the following observations when tryingtodetermine the perceived relationship:
    1. Know yourself!
      1. Have you been exposed to research and produced publications in the before?
      2. Are you trying to conduct research based on your own ideas? If so, selecting an Advisor who wants you to carry out their ideas is not for you. You need to find a Professor who is open to their students research ideas
      3. Are you willing to take on a Professors research/projects? Find a professor that has a list of potential projects that pique your interest
      4. Do you need someone assigning daily/weekly tasks to you or are you a person who is self driven and set your own tasks?
      5. Depending on how you answered the questions above, move the Schools that have Professors that compliment your answers towards the top of your Schools Offering Funding Pile
    2. Are there one or many professors at the prospective University that seem to be interested in YOU and YOUR success?
      1. Does the Professor/Lab seem receptive of you and eager to have you in their Lab?
      2. If the Professor does not seem interested in you. Remove them from your prospective list
    3. How many PhDs has the prospective professor overseen in the last few years?
    4. How long does it take for the typical graduate student to graduate in the prospective lab? If it’s more than 5-6 years, I suggest you move this School/Professor towards the bottom of the pile
    5. These next few items are sensitive, but in my opinion are essential andneedto be HEAVILY considered when making your decision. Try to strategically find the answers to the questions below without having to ask the prospective Professor directly.
      1. Are you a minority (Black, Latino, or Native American)? Is your Professor a minority? Okay… How many minorities have been in the prospective Professors lab? How many of the previous minority students have graduatedwithPhDs? What’s the ratio? What’s the ratio for everyone else? Do you sense any potential issues between you and this Professor?
        1. Note, I am not saying that just because a Professor is a minority or because they have not graduated any minorities that you should not select this School/Professor, but if it is the case, you should do some more research into why.
      2. Are you a Female? Is your Professor a Female? Okay… How many women have been in the prospective Professors lab? How many of those have graduatedwithPhDs? What’s the ratio? What’s the ratio for everyone else? Do you sense any potential issues between you and this Professor?
        1. Note, I am not saying that just because a Professor is a female or because they have not graduated any women that you should not select this School/Professor, but if it is the case, you should do some more research into why.
        2. Do you have children or are you thinking of having a family during your PhD? Has the prospective Professor/Lab had similar situations before? What is the Professors first response to the possibility of you having children?
    6. Look at the make-up of students in the lab:
      1. Is the professor always around to aid the students? If not, are there post doctoral or senior doctoral students in the lab to help?
      2. Is the lab diverse? By this I mean male/female and different Nationalities
      3. Try to have a conversation with some of the students without the Professor being present. STRATEGICALLY ask them about 1-5 listed in this section. Are their answers what you expect?
  3. Supporting Cast – at the prospectiveUniversitycan be the research students in the Lab. What is important is that the University has people you can interact with outside of your research. The supporting cast will help bring stability to your life during your PhDandshould not be taken for granted. The cast can also consist of:
    1. Other Professors/Mentors at the University
    2. Other graduate students in other Labs or programs
    3. Graduate student clubs
    4. Family
  4. Research – What type of Research is conducted by the prospective schools? Does this research pique your interest? Know that many students’  current PhD research area differs from what was initially written in their personal statements. This is because interests change and the exposure to unfamiliar areas typically happen when a person attends graduate school. Do not feel limited by selecting a school purely off of your first research interests. If a school has 1 – 3 in the Selecting the BEST Graduate School For YOU List and Professors who care about YOU, an interesting research area will not be far out of reach.

  5. Prestige – When it comes to the Prestige of a particular University try not to place too much weight on this. If multiple Universities rank high in items 1-4 in the Selecting the BEST Graduate School For YOU List, then prestige can be a determining factor. Remember, a PhD in STEM is more about the type of research you are conducting and the ability to complete your PhD. Opposed to the name of the University you get your degree from.  Note, people who receive their PhDs from more prestigious Universities typically get more attention, but your specific research can make you just as competitive. Of course, if you are accepted to all highly prestigious schools then this does not matter to YOU. Read Life in College Matters for Life After College (Thanks Tasha Zephirin!) for a study about this
  6. Location – The ranking of Location depends on the type of person you are. If it is a necessity to be around your family or if your family is already established in a particular city. You should move schools with the proper place to the top of your list

Disclaimer: This is a blog of my opinions, not facts or rules. When it comes to selecting a graduate school, you should always take bits of information from multiple sources and use them to form your own opinion.

Inspiring Our Youth – Michael Simpson Jr.

Welcome to the first of many Mentoring Our Future (MOF) blogs.

A quote I came up with gives insight into the importance I place on mentoring:

“Your accomplishments are meaningless unless you inspire someone younger than you to set personal goals higher than the ones you have achieved” – Corey Baker

I first met Michael and his sister Karina (who I will blog about in a future #MOF) in 2009 at the NSBE Region 6 Summer Camping Conference (SCC) in Pomona, CA. At that time Michael was 12 years old and inspired me (yes, he inspires me still!) with the first words he spoke to me. I was on a panel giving a talk about college and Michael approached me afterwards and said:

“… so what if you are working on a Master’s degree, I can do better!”

Karina then followed with similar remarks. I then responded with “Oh really…” and sat speechless. From a simple panel discussion Michael and Karina automatically set a bar for themselves higher than what I had achieved. What amazed me the most was the excitement on their faces and the sincerity of their voices. They truly believed in their statements. Many things could have been in place before this encounter. For instance, Karina and Michael’s parents (who I will also blog about later) are both very active in their children’s lives and education and may have already exposed them to graduate degrees. Even if this was the case, the fact that I may have reinforced or introduced a high level of achievement (what I’ve previously referred to as “the bar”) is remarkable. Currently, Michael is in the 11th grade and has a 3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale, amazing, (round of applause please). Something that intrigues me, is the possibility that Michael’s high level of accomplishments can possibly be attributed to his chasing of “the bar”. A bar that Michael has set for himself based off of what’s been placed in his environment and people he has taken a liking to. Not saying that Michael has to grow up in the best environment (Michael is from Compton, CA by the way), but what in his environment peeks his interests.

This brings me to perception, or the differences in perception of our Black youth. Many people, as well as myself, believe: television, internet, and environment strongly influence our youth’s perceptions and aspirations. My encounter with Michael and Karina made me think,

“Can I really influence perception? If so, can it be done by merely being present?”

Many think of mentoring is hanging out with a mentee or doing activities. I like to think these type of interactions are very important. A point I believe we miss is an underlining one; being present and being a positive role model has an impactful long-term effect on your mentees. This long-term effect is changing the perception of our youth which assists in breaking the barriers of “stereotype threat”.

Stereotype threat refers to being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group – (Steele and Aronson, 1995)

I learned about “stereotype threat” in a book called Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Times) by Claude M. Steele (a great read by the way!). By being present and exposing our youth to a different type of success, we can begin to introduce positive stereotypes. For instance, growing up, friends of mine chose particular paths often because it was one their parents or older siblings were familiar with, or because their environment fostered it. If we want our youth to be successful, we must show them what success looks like. We must help our youth see themselves in us, and not themselves in the characters on television. Me, like my friends I mentioned earlier could have easily followed the path of my environment. While growing up, my Father was an alcoholic, and my Mother was on and off drugs. From 7th – 12th grade my brother and I lived with my Father. Many of my friends turned to drugs and gang banging. I don’t believe I had the hardest life growing up, but I definitely didn’t have the easiest. What if I could talk to a young male/female who is going through a similar situation in their life? What if I can just be present and expose them directly to “the light at the end if the tunnel?” What if we as successful Black Graduates can talk to our youth and have discussions about using adversity to build better character and stronger people? I believe we would break stereotypes, influence perception, and inspire our youth. This is what Mentoring Our Future is all about.

Disclaimer: This is a blog of my opinions, not facts to abide by. When it comes to mentoring, you should always take bits of information from multiple sources and use them to form your own opinion.

Dissertation Advice

I sit, staring at my two computer screens, 32 pages into my dissertation, and think,

“am I really making progress, or is this all just pretend?”.

The answer to that question is, I really don’t know. My Advisor is the only person who can weigh-in on my progress and it actually be meaningful. What I do know is I have a ton of graphs and extra results to add. I also have four paper topics in the queue that all need: coding, simulations run, and results assessed. So there’s plenty to write about…


This brings me to providing some dissertation advice. First, I will never pretend to be the know all to this whole PhD thing.  The rule of thumb is, whatever approach you are taking should be something your Advisor is in full agreement with. From what I have learned, there are three approaches:

  1. Write your dissertation chapters and turn them into publications
  2. Write papers, publish them, and then put them as chapters in your dissertation
  3. A hybrid of 1 and 2, at the end of the day all of your chapters don’t have to be publications and vice versa

I choosing to go with number 2, and will resort to 3 if I have issues getting some of my papers accepted for publication. Note: some Advisors/Departments require a certain publication count for graduation.

The last thing I will mention is the application/template you should choose to write your dissertation/thesis in. There are typically two types of applications people use: Microsoft Word and LaTex. You can usually find the template for your University by googling something like your University name and dissertation. For e.g. “uf dissertation template”.

Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever use Microsoft Word for your dissertation/thesis!

It is a nightmare and will most likely cost you hours/days/weeks of wasted time on formatting. The solution is LaTex! If you are familiar with programming, you can pick up LaTex pretty easily. If you don’t how to do something in LaTex, just google it. If you are not a coder, LaTex is a great way to learn how to code and most LaTex downloads come with other applications that simplify the coding process. You can also download “Lyx” which will allow you to edit the LaTex template without any coding. The abilities of LaTex are endless:

  • The formatting is fully controlled by the template
  • Automatic reference tracking and numbering for figures, tables, citations, etc.
  • Full control and easy inputting of mathematical equations
  • Full control of tables
  • etc. etc. etc

Most LaTex installs come with BibDesk, which allows you to keep all of your citations in one place. I recommend you download “JabRef” as it creates .bib files just like “BibDesk”, but it allows you to search for papers online via “google scholar” and other popular places such as “IEEE Xplorer”. This is extremely useful because it can populate all the citation information for each of your references for you, saving you tons of time and allowing you to focus on your dissertation/theses.  Forgot to mention LaTex, Lyx, Bibdesk, and JabRef are all FREE! All applications are for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.

Watch a video I found on youtube about LaTex vs. Word. The video is made by James Hayton PhD

Be sure to check back monthly for more RTPhD Blogs as well as others!

Disclaimer: This is a blog of my opinions, not facts to abide by. When it comes to any graduate school information/suggestions, you should always take bits of information from multiple sources and use them to form your own opinion. Always confirm everything with your Advisor. If your Advisor/Committee are not in agreement, then it’s not the right thing for YOU to do. They decide on your PhD, not me or anyone else.

NSBE Glass

This is the vision I had for NSBE as a National Chair Candidate in the 2014. Though I did not win, this vision can still be used to assist the organization in the future. To enable NSBE to see the mission to fruition, I’ve introduced a new concept called NSBE Glass. NSBE Glass enables the organization, regions, chapters, and members the ability to see a clear path to accomplishing the mission, NSBE can then navigate the path and “increase the number” in the smartest, safest, and swiftest way possible.

So what is NSBE Glass? The individual parts of NSBE Glass are:

  • Frames – the fundamentals needed to be successful in engineering
  • Lenses – uses data to identify a clear path through engineeringFinal glasses edit
  1. Number of students with a “Positive STEM Experience” by 3rd Grade
  2. Number of students taking 8th Grade Algebra or pre-algebra
  3. Number of students taking High School Calculus or pre-calculus
  4. Number of students matriculating into schools of engineering
  5. Freshman-to-sophomore, and sophomore-to-junior Retention Rates
  6. Number of students graduating with degrees in engineering
  7. Average GPA
  8. Number of students employed as engineers or entering graduate school
  9. Provide insight and clarity to the above 8 data points

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Engaging The Pipeline

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Leadership Resume


Doctorate of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering  May 2015 (Expected)
Emphasis: Delay Tolerant Networking, Wireless Networks and Cyber Physical Systems
GPA: 3.51/4.00
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering   May 2012
Emphasis: Wireless Systems and Controls
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering   June 2010
Emphasis: Control Systems
California State University Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering May 2008
Minor: Mathematics
San Jose State University, San Jose, CA


National Treasurer May 2012 – Present

  • Managed the budget and protected the integrity of the entire society (~$10m operationally, ~$12m in reserves)
  • Restructured and introduced new sustainable financial models
  • Strategically placed funds in areas that supported the mission of the organization.
  • Managed the National Finance Zone
  • Chaired the Convention Planning Committee Task Force (CPC Task Force)
  • Chaired the Funds Management Committee

Region Six Chairperson Emeritus and Parliamentarian May 2009 – April 2010

  • Advised the Region Six administrative and finance zone.
  • Facilitated Region Six meetings

CAMS NSBE Jr. Chapter Co-Advisor May 2009 – April 2010

  • Organized meetings for NSBE Jr. Students
  • Helped prepare students for the SAT/ACT
  • Assisted students in their college applications
  • Assisted students in robot building and solar panel car design

Region Six Chairperson May 2008 – April 2009

  • Served on the National Executive Board responsible for key organization decisions.
  • Managed 20 Executive Board Members across the west coast.
  • Served as the liaison for Region Six members to the Regional and National Executive Board

Region Six Treasurer May 2007 – April 2008

  • Managed $125,000.00 Regional Budget to facilitate three conferences.
  • Advised Region Six Chapter Treasurers

SJSU Chapter Telecommunications Chairperson  May 2005 – April 2008

  • Created and managed the chapter website
  • Managed the communications zone

SJSU Chapter PCI Chairperson May 2006 – April 2007

  • Organized meetings and programs for high school students
  • Advised/mentored high school students about college
  • Chaperoned students to conferences

SJSU Chapter Historian May 2004 – April 2005

  • Photographer during meetings and programs
  • Kept track of accomplishments of the chapter during the year

SJSU Chapter Senator May 2004 – April 2005

  • Listened to National and Regional candidates platforms and voted for candidates on behalf of my chapter



  • National Leadership Institute (2013)
  • National Leadership Institute (2012)
  • Region Six Transition Meeting (2009)
  • National Leadership Institute (2008)
  • National Executive Board Transition Meeting (2008)
  • National Leadership Institute (2007)
  • Region Six Transition Meeting (2008)
  • Region Six Transition Meeting (2007)
  • Region Six Transition Meeting (2006) 


Intel, Santa Clara, CA October 2012 – January 2013

RF Architecture Intern

  • Conducted research on Bluetooth 4.0 RSSI proximity detection and implementation.

Intel, Hillsboro, OR May 2012 – August 2012

Graduate Intern

  • Part of the Intel Collaborators program. Helped manage and program a team that enabled one button touch gaming on wireless displays using C,C++, and C#. Also conducted research on Bluetooth 4.0 RSSI proximity detection.

Intel, Santa Clara, CA June 2010 – August 2010

Software Engineering Graduate Intern

  • Wrote code in an Intel proprietary language for Intel graphic cards to test cards performance and identify bugs in the compiler.

Hewlett Packard, Cupertino, CA February 2007 – August 2008

Software Engineering Intern

  • Wrote test automation code using VB Script for HP Itanium Servers. Scripts tested HP’s Software Management Software and made sure servers were reporting accurate system information.



University of Florida, Wireless and Mobile Systems Laboratory, Gainesville FL August 2010 – Present

Conducted research under Dr. Janise McNair in Wireless Networks in the area of Cyber Physical Systems. Investigating socially aware delay tolerant networking using short-range communications such as Bluetooth.

University of Southern California, Brain and Body Dynamics Lab, Los Angeles CA February 2009 – May 2010

Thesis: Design and Implementation of a Non-Linear Dynamical System Replicating Spring Buckling Behavior

Conducted research under Dr. Francisco Valero-Cuevas to use a linear motor in place of a spring to replicate the edge of instability using the duffing equation. The device can be used to measure the strength and dexterity of a patient’s hand and how much vision factors in when dexterity deteriorates.


  • Intel Scholar/The National GEM Consortium Fellow, PhD (2010–present)
  • NSF LSAMP Bridges to the Doctorate Fellow (2008–2010)
  • Hewlett Packard Scholar (2004–2008)
  • NSBE Silicon Valley Chapter Scholarship (2008)
  • NSBE Chapter Executive Board Member of the year (2005–2006)

Accomplishments as NSBE National Treasurer

  • Decreased inefficient budgeting by ~3% ($115,000, Completed 9/2012)
  • Increased programmatic spending in the Academic Excellence budget by more than 300% (Completed 9/2012)Baker_Corey_13
  • Strategically earmarked funds to fully support 26 students for the 2013 Summer Bridge pilot program (Completed 9/2012)
  • Increased chapter relief by 33% ($10,000, Completed 9/2012)
  • Redesigned NSBE’s budget infrastructure and developed new budget practices
  • Stabilized NSBE’s budget and developed templates to detect and correct instability (Completed in two phases: 9/2012, 3/2013) 
  • Created models and restructured SEEK Financial Operations that moved the program from operating in pilot state into a program that can safely grow and be sustainable (Completed in three phases: 9/2012, 3/2013, 7/2013) 
  • Developed process/presentations to show BCA their ROI (1/2013)
  • Allocated more funding to Summer Bridge, and the program will be supporting over 100 students for 2014 (Completed 3/2013)
  • Restructured the organization’s Financial Policy (Completed 6/2013)
  • Created BCA Dashboard Idea and Concept (Completed 8/2013)
  • Established new methods and templates for NSBE Financial Quarterly reporting (11/2013)

I have had the privilege of serving as your National Treasurer for two terms (4/2012-3/2013 and 4/2013-3/2014) and directly impact NSBE in many ways. Though our organization has consistently made around the same amount of revenue over the last 5 years (around ~10m), I’ve been able to identify/take-advantage of opportunities in our organization’s finances that significantly impact this organization. This impact was felt at all levels of the organization and positively affected the Programs, Membership, Communication, and Finance zones.  I have managed to carry out the items above, all without sacrificing any area of the organization. During my two terms, I have also made and passed 8 motions to two different National Executive Board and have never presented a motion that did not pass. This is something I’m extremely proud of, because it shows that I managed to keep the NEB fully informed and in support of my financial recommendations as well as educate the Board well enough to vote “yes”. Passing all financial motions is something that the National Treasurer who served in the immediate years before me, could not accomplish.