Creating a Diverse Talent Pipeline Takes Teamwork

DiverseNote and SAE International work together to inspire the next generation of innovators.

The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering reports that the United States population of underrepresented minorities will increase to 40% by 2050. With the demand for qualified STEM professionals high and continuing to increase, positions are at risk of going unfilled if underrepresented groups aren’t engaged and prepared to pursue these fields.

Tekisha Lee has spent a considerable amount of time thinking—and acting—on this challenge. While working with the United States Navy on a national recruitment campaign, Lee realized that organizations wanted to hire more diverse candidates but didn’t know where to start.

“At the time, there wasn’t one place to look for this talent—it was kind of marginalized.”

To answer that call, six years ago she founded DiverseNote, a career management network tool for students and professionals. And two years later, Lee launched DiverseNote Mobility to provide training and credentials for career opportunities. This national program helps funnel students into high-growth careers, including autonomous technology, construction technology and auto mechanics.

Recently, DiverseNote launched a pre-apprenticeship model program to introduce young adults ages 14-23 to careers in the high-demand IT field. In just six weeks, students grasp programming basics, covering Internet of Things, self-driving cars, networking and more. DiverseNote serves 2,000 students annually, independently of the partners with whom the program works, but partnerships are critical to help keep this access affordable.

“Our programs are tuition-based but we never charge an individual tuition,” Lee says. “We look to work with foundations and organizations that believe in increasing access to assist with tuition sponsorship to help build their talent pipeline.”

SAE International joined forces with DiverseNote Mobility in Summer 2018. Forty students in the Detroit program were among the first to experience SAE’s A World In Motion® challenge, Cybersecurity: Keeping Our Networks Secure. Students learned how information moves through the internet and investigated the two basic components of securing data and systems, encryption and authentication as part of their IT education.

“SAE values the partnership with DiverseNote,” said Lori Gatmaitan, Director of the SAE Foundation. “Tekisha Lee’s work enables SAE to increase opportunities and interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math for even more students.”

This early career program from DiverseNote Mobility has already reached 600 young adults, and another 400 students in the fall session. So far, it is hitting all the right notes—Lee reports a 95% employment placement rate within IT fields, and the future looks just as bright.

“There are more jobs in the U.S. than there are individuals with those degrees at the moment,” Lee explains. “Our goal and our work is to increase access to high wages and really great careers in IT for individuals who wouldn’t otherwise have had access to it.”

Want to get involved with SAE to help inspire the next generation of innovators? With the support of our donors, we’ve reached more than six million students and brought more than 30,000 industry professionals into classrooms around the globe. Visit to learn more.

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