Forty years after it started, we still need the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering to showcase successful people of color and help more engineering students join their ranks.
Tima McGuthry-Banks (’92 chemical engineering)
Primary Patent Examiner, United States Patent & Trademark Office
[My husband] Derris Banks (’93 mechanical engineering) and I met when we were both engineering students at Maryland. Thirty-plus years later, we’re still together as spouses and co-workers at the Patent & Trademark Office.
I was the only Black female in the chemical engineering department and didn’t feel appreciated as a student; the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering (CMSE) was the one place I could go where my presence wouldn’t be questioned and my experiences wouldn’t be dismissed. The donuts and hot chocolate made it a great place to just hang out.
I saw CMSE Director Rosemary Parker and CMSE Associate Director LaWanda Kamalidiin as extended family, and I considered former CMSE Director James Newton a surrogate uncle. They had an open door policy, made themselves available, and always seemed genuinely interested in my concerns.
In 2011, Derris and I helped establish the James N. Newton Endowed Scholarship for undergraduate students served by the center. Derris, a car enthusiast, has given to Terps Racing, a group of engineering students that design, build, test, and race cars. And, to support deserving students in the department, I recently established an endowed scholarship for chemical engineering students who are active with CMSE.
Our children have grown up with parents with advanced degrees and know Black professionals. But that’s not true for a lot of Black children. Forty years after it started, we still need CMSE to showcase successful people of color and help more engineering students join their ranks.