A young man cuts a piece of PVC pipe to length; it will be used to construct a prototype of a spacecraft.

The National Federation of the Blind facilitated three weeklong advanced engineering design programs known as NFB EQ. The first program took place in the summer of 2015 (August 2-8). Two additional programs were held the summer of 2016 (June 19-25 and July 31-August 6). Want to see a snap shot of the program? Check out this video from NFB EQ 2015. Pictures from all programs are available on our Facebook page.

NFB EQ is an extension of the National Federation of the Blind’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science initiative. NFB EQ expands on the exciting and innovative work conducted by the NFB in the area of informal STEM education through previous National Center for Blind Youth in Science programs such as the NFB Youth Slam, NFB Project Innovation, and NFB STEM-X.

Embrace your engineering quotient (EQ)!

Teens work together to assemble the smallest components of their prototype.

Are you interested in pursuing work in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) after high school? Do you enjoy investing your talent and energy in solving real-world problems? Join the National Federation of the Blind for one of the 2016 NFB EQ programs, week-long engineering programs for blind and low-vision high school students.

At these programs, you will collaborate with other students to solve problems that exist in developing countries. You will spend the week working on a team to engineer solutions to these problems. Your team will create proposals with accompanying models, which you will pitch to various stakeholders. After constructing life-size prototypes of your designs, you will test them in authentic settings. You will also have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a number of engineers from across the country, some of whom happen to be blind.

Throughout the program, students will work to demonstrate mastery of the engineering design processes, as well as engineering concepts such as prototyping, design viability, and data collection and analysis. This program will provide teens with the opportunity to hone their engineering skills—from technical knowledge, to problem solving ability, to the understanding that through engineering one can improve other people’s quality of life.

The program curriculum was developed by engineering educators and is aligned with both the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. 

The Specs

Teens construct a track, out of PVC pipe, for their blind-drivable hovercraft.

Participants: 40 blind and low-vision high school students (currently in grades 9-12); 20 students at each of the two programs

Dates: To be announced

Location: National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland

Application: The application period has ended for the 2015/2016 programs. Please subscribe to our e-newsletter to keep abreast of future program dates. To subscribe to the newsletter, please email

Cost: $0 (This program is free of charge.)

Hashtag: #NCBYS

Additional Information

  • To be eligible to apply students must: be in grades 9-12 during the school year, be blind or have low-vision, be a United States resident, and be available to attend the entire program.
  • Participant’s transportation to and from the program will be arranged by the National Federation of the Blind. Students will travel to Baltimore on Sunday and will travel home on the following Saturday.
  • This is a residential program; students will stay in dormitories at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and all meals will be provided.
  • In the evenings, after the conclusion of the instructional day, students will be engaged in various social and recreational activities.
  • If you are a teacher of the blind looking to participate please visit:

What are students saying about EQ?

“Engineering isn't about following instructions to the letter. It's changing on the fly. It takes a set of skills to fundamentally change something to make it better while you're working on it.”

"I’ve been taking engineering classes at school and now that I know there are tools [and] drafting boards. I’m going to ask for [them] next year. This program has made me more confident in what I can do."

“Expectations for blind are really low. This program showed us all that there is a way to do things we never thought we could do. I always thought STEM seemed kind of impossible, but there are tools, techniques, and there is a way to integrate into the real world.”

“Participating in this program gave me the determination to push forward. If I hear someone say you can’t, I will push forward.”


If you have questions or require additional information, please contact:

Natalie Shaheen
National Center for Blind Youth in Science Project Director
National Federation of the Blind
410-659-9314 ext. 2418

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1322855.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.