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College of Engineering receives bronze award for diversity and inclusion efforts

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The College of Engineering has made several efforts to increase diversity and inclusion through new programs, earning it the 2021 Diversity Recognition Bronze Award from the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE).

The bronze award, College of Engineering Dean Hanchen Huang said, was not a goal but simply “a byproduct of the work [they] are doing and will continue to do.”

The College of Engineering has implemented various new programs and opportunities, including the university’s Diversity and Excellence in Engineering Network (DEEN), Diversity and Excellence in Engineering Night (DEE Night), implicit bias and inclusion training, UNT STEM at the Park and more. A compiled list of these efforts is available on the university’s engineering website.

“Nationwide there is a drive for diversity and inclusion,” Huang said. “We have to take concrete steps when it comes to these things. Supporting students in all walks of life is our main focus.”

Nandika D’souza, professor and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, leads the college’s DEEN. The leadership council of the DEEN has created a mentorship program through Mean Green Mentors which connects alumni, faculty and staff with students, giving them a safe space to learn, grow and converse ideas. 

“Engineering can be intimidating to students,” D’Souza said. “Especially those such as minorities who have been societally hindered and underestimated. We have a lot of exceptional underrepresented minority students, and we continue to graduate excellence every year. We want to showcase that in order to inspire others about the future of engineering.”

The College of Engineering has also joined the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), which works to transform culture in engineering education to attract, retain and graduate women, according to the NCWIT website.  

The college has seen growth in the number of underrepresented minorities in its population every year. It retains these students through the support and opportunities they offer, Noah Mohammed, material science and engineering graduate student, said.

“The programs, events and opportunities offered by the CoE are widespread and greatly appreciated,” Mohammed said. “I think the next step going forward would be to analyze who is and is not participating in the offered programs and why in order to get a broader look at the population and further increase inclusion in the long run.”

In 2021, the college plans to host a Diversity and Excellence in Engineering Summit. This will include interactive workshops to prepare for the workforce, as well as the learning and use of skills in order to familiarize students with what the engineering industry looks like outside of the academic world.  

Both the college’s Diversity Awareness Committee and Advising Council meet frequently throughout the semester to discuss ways to better improve the environment’s inclusivity. Huang said the awareness starts from within, from students to professors to officials.

“This is an ongoing effort,” Huang said. “There is not an endpoint, and we will continue to be proactive.” 

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Featured Image: A table with hand sanitizer sits at the nearly empty Discovery Park campus on Feb. 24, 2021. The College of Engineering is located at the Discovery Park campus. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

Article Originally Published by Gwen Reed on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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