NFB EQ

Photo of students working together building a structureThe National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient program (NFB EQ) is a weeklong summer engineering program for blind and low-vision teens from around the United States. NFB EQ is jam-packed with fun and learning. Participants spend each day engaged in activities designed to strengthen their knowledge of engineering as well as their problem solving abilities. In the evenings, participants explore the local community and participate in various recreational activities. Throughout the week, participants will forge new friendships while increasing their engineering knowledge, problem solving abilities, self-confidence, and independence. Blind and low-vision teens who are ready to learn new things, meet new people, and have an adventure this summer are encouraged to apply. 

Photo of student testing stability

NFB EQ 2019 Specs

Who: 30 blind and low-vision teens currently enrolled in grades 9-12 in the United States

What: A weeklong summer engineering program for blind and low-vision teens

When: June 16 through June 22.

Where: Baltimore, Maryland

Why: To meet new people, learn new things, and have an exciting adventure!

How: The NFB EQ 2019 application will open on January 15, 2019.

How Much: There are no registration fees for this program. Additionally, the National Federation of the Blind will cover participants’ travel*, room, and board for the duration of the week. *Please note there are minimal costs associated with travel.

Questions?

Visit the NFB EQ FAQ page for answers to the following questions and more!

1. I'm in 8th grade this year can I come to NFB EQ?

2. How much does it cost to participate in NFB EQ?

What People Are Saying about NFB EQ

“Before the program, I didn’t know that you could use power tools to build, even if you can’t see it, you can feel it and build it just the same. I am going to tell my teachers at school that I can build things too.” – Naveha, Massachusetts

Photo of a student drawing on a Sensational BlackBoard.

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

“Last year, I got a C+ in geometry because I had trouble understanding all the pictures. At NFB EQ, I learned how to draw a cube using tactile drawing tools and now the things I was taught in geometry make more sense. I want to take the drawing techniques I learned back to use in my pre-calc class next year.” – Riley, Louisiana

Photo of a student measuring angles using a Braille ruler.

“Expectations for blind people 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.” – Abdi, Nebraska

“At this program, I felt a sense of community and friendship, so I felt comfortable opening up. The lessons were also very intriguing and I could tell how great everyone felt with the confidence and independence that our teachers were trying to ensure that we had.” – Xakhary, Oklahoma

Photo of students working together to build a structure out of large wooden dowels.“I am amazed at how the people involved in organizing this program made everything so easy for us. From organizing logistics to making sure the schedule was running smoothly for the students—the whole event was very successful. The staff’s warmth and attention to detail really eased my mind and made me feel good about leaving my son at the program for the week.” – Mark (father), North Carolina

Meet the Team

NFB EQ, which is part of the NSF-funded Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research project, is developed and facilitated by an interdisciplinary team of professionals from three organizations: the National Federation of the Blind, Utah State University, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Team members have expertise in numerous applicable fields including: blindness, K-12 education, special education, informal education, engineering, STEM, engineering education, art, and research. We would like to introduce you to some of the key personnel who will be working with NFB EQ participants this summer.

In addition to the individuals introduced below, a handful of blind adult mentors will be working with NFB EQ participants. These mentors travel from all over the country to Baltimore to share their unique skills and life experiences with NFB EQ students. The mentoring relationships that develop at NFB EQ are frequently maintained for years after the program. Former NFB EQ participants have reached out to their mentors to get advice about navigating university campuses and politics or preparing for their first job interview.

Anil Lewis

Anil LewisAnil Lewis currently serves as the executive director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and the principal investigator for the National Federation of the Blind’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research Project. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1964, he became blind from retinitis pigmentosa, a retinal degenerative eye disease, in 1989. He subsequently earned his bachelors of business administration in computer information systems at Georgia State University (GSU), and earned his master’s degree in public administration with emphasis in policy analysis and program evaluation from GSU in 2003. Mr. Lewis was employed at a local community rehabilitation center as a Braille and assistive technology instructor, and within a year he was given the greater responsibility of job development/placement specialist, helping clients develop employment skills and get jobs. Mr. Lewis went on to develop and manage a job placement program for people with disabilities as the manager of the Disability Employment Initiative with Randstad Staffing, one of the largest employment staffing companies in the world, during the Atlanta Olympic and Para-Olympic Games in 1996. From then until early 2006 he was employed by the law offices of Martin and Jones as the Georgia Client Assistance Program (CAP) counselor/advocate, representing people with disabilities every day.

Wade Goodridge

Wade GoodridgeDr. Wade Goodridge is an assistant professor in engineering education at Utah State University and is the principal researcher for the National Federation of the Blind’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research Project. Wade has 20 years of teaching experience spanning almost all education levels. Wade began teaching technology education at junior and senior high schools in the state of Utah where he received a license for secondary education from the Utah State Board of Education. After a few years of coaching students towards STEM fields, he returned to college to continue his education as a civil engineer. Wade has a BS in civil engineering and an MS and PhD. in hydraulics and fluid mechanics. Wade has worked with junior high and high school robotics programs and advised a university team in a NASA robotics competition. Wade has taught blind students engineering content centered on hydrostatics as well as design for a number of years. As a faculty member at Utah State University, Wade conducts a great deal of research in the field of engineering education, but he remains passionate about teaching, particularly mentoring the next generation of STEM professionals. Wade has eight teaching/mentoring awards for his work with students and was most recently awarded the “Teacher of the Year Award” for the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Society of Engineering Education. When not teaching or researching, you may find Wade daydreaming of his commercial fishing days back in Alaska or in the outdoors with his family.

Natalie Shaheen

Natalie ShaheenNatalie is the project director for the National Federation of the Blind’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research Project and the program director for the associated NFB EQ summer programs. Natalie holds teaching licenses in special education and the education of blind students for grades K-12. Natalie has taught blind students and students with autism and other disabilities in a wide range of settings including: charter schools, large urban public schools, residential schools, and informal educational settings. Natalie’s professional experiences, as well as her lived experiences as a blind person, have engendered a deep devotion to supporting the needs of all students with disabilities. The merit of Natalie’s work has been recognized by the bestowment of several awards including the New Leader Award from The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology and the Towson University President’s Diversity and Inclusion Award. When she is not working, Natalie loves to cook (and eat!), read, and get outside!

Mya Catherine Taylor

Mya Catherine JonesMya Catherine Taylor (formally Jones) is the assistant to the executive director of the Jernigan Institute, Anil Lewis, and the logistics coordinator for NFB EQ. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Mya graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor of arts in english literature and a double minor in philosophy and theology. During her college years, she worked at Georgetown's Davis Performing Arts Center undertaking a broad range of secretarial and administrative duties. Upon graduation, in 2011, Mya served as a legal assistant at Morris, Hardwick, and Schneider LLC drafting mortgage foreclosure legal complaints. In 2013 Mya decided to change her career path and joined the public service sector at the National Federation of the Blind. In her roles, Mya has gained extensive experience with all administrative tasks and is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various responsibilities.

Peter Anderson

Peter AndersonPeter Anderson is the instructional coach at the Science Museum of Minnesota and a lead instructor for the National Federation of the Blind EQ summer program. He has a master’s in education focusing on science instruction and is licensed to teach physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science courses to high school students. He has tutored for ten years, taught in K-12 classroom for seven years, and taught at the Museum for seven years. Peter has been an instructor in several National Federation of the Blind science and engineering programs. At the Museum, Peter works on the cutting edge of hands-on science and enjoys going where none have gone before in teaching science to learners of all ages. Recently, Peter became a father and spends most of his spare time parenting.

Ann Cunningham

Ann CunninghamAnn Cunningham is an award winning author, artist, teacher, and innovator recognized by the Independent Book Publishers Association (Benjamin Franklin Award - gold), the Denver Botanic Gardens (Sydney Parkinson Award), and the National Federation of the Blind (Jacob Bolotin Award). Her work spans these diverse areas as she develops connections for people to fine art through touch. Ann passionately believes that tactile access to properly formatted art can play the same role for blind people that visual art plays for sighted people. Ann’s passion for art and nonvisual access are apparent in the energy and attention to detail that she brings to her work as a teacher. Ann has been teaching art to students at the Colorado Center for the Blind since 1999. Additionally, Ann has taught art to students in numerous National Federation of the Blind science, technology, engineering, and math programs over the last decade. Ann will be a lead instructor at this summer’s National Federation of the Blind EQ program.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1712887. 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.