The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering recently committed to sign the Engineering Dean’s Diversity Initiative, an initiative charted by the American Society for Engineering Education. This new commitment strives to increase minority participation and provide a quality education experience for those who have been underrepresented in the engineering field.
James Collofello, the senior associate dean for academic and student affairs at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, said the new initiative will increase minority enrollment and retention at the engineering schools while also reaching out to high schools and community colleges.
“We are redoubling our efforts and we’re doing a more aggressive job of recruiting more minorities," Collofello said. “Our goal is to recruit engineering students who reflect the place where we live and creating retention activities from underrepresented groups for our school.”
Chemical engineering senior Tony Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, said his experience as part of an underrepresented group at the engineering schools has been both positive and negative.
“I am surrounded by a group of diverse students that all love engineering, but there is always a lack of cultural awareness that shows when I’m communicating with others,” Nguyen said. “I have received comments throughout my college life such as the reason that I got an 'A' on the test was because I was Asian.”
Although Asians represent the highest minority group in STEM, Nguyen said he hopes the Engineering Dean’s Diversity Initiative will open doors for other Asian communities that lack representation along with other minorities communities who need support in the engineering community.
“The Engineering Dean’s Diversity Initiative will help support the minority communities that are lacking the cultural support that other communities give due to a lack of information or language barriers,” Nguyen said. “It’s a proud moment to see Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering begin to push for this cause.”
When mechanical engineering sophomore Jennifer Jones decided to pursue an engineering degree, she embraced her Native American culture, with this embrace becoming the driving force behind her career as an engineer.
“I want to take engineering to the next level. It is very important me,” Jones said. “Being Native American, I grew up understanding my culture and having to have pride in it.”
Jones said she hopes current and future students who are doubtful about pursuing engineering because of their background will push on and use their minority label to overcome the odds.
“Find the support, get involved in the minority clubs, and be knowledgeable in your culture and share it,” Jones said. “There are so many people in the same situation who think 'I’m the only girl' or 'I’m the only Native.' If they can do it, so can you.”
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