Engineering deans pledge diversity

Heads of schools across country sign a letter to create more engineering opportunities.

engineering-diversityMore than 100 deans–102, to be exact–from across the nation have signed a letter to President Barack Obama pledging to create opportunities on campus that support diversity in engineering.

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) released the letter on Aug. 4, to coincide with the White House’s first Demo Day, which brought together entrepreneurs from across the U.S. to share their success stories. ASEE sent the letter to President Obama on behalf of the deans.

“The issue of diversity is one of significant importance to us as a nation if we hope to remain competitive economically, to continue to generate the innovation and creativity needed to solve the engineering challenges of the 21st century, and to meet workforce demands,” said Dr. Jenna P. Carpenter, founding dean of the Campbell University School of Engineering. Carpenter was one of the deans who signed the letter.

ASEE declared 2014-15 a Year of Action in Diversity. As part of that initiative, engineering deans who signed the letter vowed to provide educational experiences that are inclusive and prevent the marginalization of any groups of people, as well as to take specific actions that increase opportunities for women and other under-represented demographic groups to pursue engineering careers.

Those actions, which Carpenter said Campbell Engineering will work to incorporate over the next few years as the school develops, include:

  • The creation of a diversity plan for the school,
  • Participating in K-12 or community college pipeline activities aimed at increasing the diversity of the engineering student body,
  • Partnering with engineering schools serving populations under-represented in engineering, and
  • Implementing proactive strategies to increase the representation of women and under-represented minorities in the engineering faculty.

“There is a wealth of research-based strategies and programs that we are already utilizing to help us achieve these broad diversity goals,” Carpenter said.

Campbell Engineering will welcome its first students in August 2016, pending SACSCOC approval. The school is expected to enroll an inaugural class of 50 students and grow to about 250 students by 2023.
Initial concentrations for the program will include mechanical and chemical/pharmaceutical engineering, with possible future expansion into areas such as electrical and biomedical engineering.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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