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ASU joins national movement committed to diversifying engineering

Engineering deans diversity initiative
August 04, 2015

Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering are among more than 100 engineering schools whose deans have committed to an action plan to increase diversity in the engineering professions.

Their commitment, spelled out in an American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) letter, was shared by the White House as part of its first ever Demo Day, on Aug. 4, which brought together entrepreneurs from across the country to share their success stories.

The Diversity Letter recognizes that, “While gains have been made in the participation of women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in recent decades, significant progress is still needed to reach a level where the engineering community fully embraces all segments of our increasingly diverse and vibrant society.”

The 2014-2015 period was declared by ASEE as the Year of Action in Diversity. The deans signing the letter include Kyle Squires, interim dean of the Fulton Schools.

“While we are encouraged about the gains we have made in the diversity of our student body and faculty, we need to continue to improve as we strive to be representative of Arizona’s demographic landscape,” Squires said. “About 25 percent of our domestic students are from underrepresented groups, though only 10 percent are Hispanic or Latino and three percent American Indian. Our goal is to move those numbers, among others, upward.”

The Fulton Schools' percentage of female students hovers around 20 percent, about the national average. Squires said, “We feel we are well positioned to make strong gains in that area, as well.”

About 42 percent of the Fulton Schools faculty are from underrepresented minority groups and about 22 percent are female.

The engineering schools signing the letter have committed their institutions to:

Develop a diversity plan for engineering programs with the help and input of national organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. Undertake an annual equity and inclusion climate survey of faculty, students and staff with the goal of assessing and increasing the effectiveness of the diversity plan developed.

• Commit to at least one K-12 or community college pipeline activity with goals and measures to increase diversity and inclusiveness of the engineering student body.

• Commit to developing strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-Ph.D. granting engineering schools serving populations underrepresented in engineering.

• Commit to the development and implementation of proactive strategies to increase representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the faculty.

A measure of success will be notable increase in diversity in enrollments, retention and graduation rates of engineering students, and increased diversity in the faculty and the engineering workforce over the next decade.

Other Arizona universities signing the diversity letter include Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Arizona.

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