Grainger College of Engineering receives ASEE Bronze Award for Diversity


Mike Koon

The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received the Bronze Award as part of the American Society of Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Diversity Recognition program. Illinois was among those Bronze Recipients who also earned “exemplar” status – the highest distinction for diversity work given by the national society this year.
In January 2017, the ASEE Engineering Deans Council issued the ASEE Deans Diversity Pledge. Colleges who sign the pledge agree to develop a diversity plan that states priorities and goals; commit to equity, implicit bias and inclusion training; commit to at least one K-12 or community college pipeline activity aimed at increasing the diversity and inclusiveness of the engineering student body; promise to develop strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-PhD granting engineering schools serving diverse populations in engineering; and advocate for strategies to increase diversity groups in faculty.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but the ASEE award is recognition that we’re making progress,” said Harley Johnson, Chair of The Grainger College of Engineering Diversity Committee. “So the Bronze Award is encouraging, and it reminds us to keep working.  Diversity and inclusion are important parts of our excellence in The Grainger College of Engineering.”
In last two years, Grainger Engineering has implemented a number of initiatives, including reviewing graduate and faculty recruiting practices, creating new support for graduate fellowships, and creating new diversity training for undergraduate advisors.  
The College also has new NSF-supported outreach programs. The Academic Redshirt in Science and Engineering (ARISE) program gives a select group of students from under-resourced backgrounds in the State of Illinois an extra year to get ready for traditional freshman-year courses.In addition, the Catalyzing Inclusive STEM Experiences All Year Round (CISTEME365) initiative works with teams of counselors and teachers from selected schools to better support students from under-represented populations in the pursuit of engineering majors and careers. Also, the College and donor supported Illinois-ChiS&E Alliance for Nurturing Excellence in STEM Education Leadership (ICANEXSEL) program allows middle and high school students from Chicago to experience several different engineering disciplines through College-hosted STEM courses and camps on the UI Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses. 
“We hope these programs will help to build a more diverse and inclusive college in the years to come,” Johnson said.
The progress is reflected in the numbers. Since 2013, the College has seen a 55 percent increase in the number of underrepresented students and a 60 percent increase in women. 
Chaired by Johnson, the College’s Diversity Committee has guided the process. That committee consists of Cecilia Leal, assistant professor of materials science and engineering; Lynford Goddard, professor of electrical and computer engineering; Paolo Gardoni, professor of civil and environmental engineering; Nancy Amato, Abel Bliss Professor and Department Head of Computer Science; Lance Cooper, professor of physics; Mariana Silva, teaching assistant professor in computer science; Lara Hebert, outreach coordinator; and students Eliza Wright (nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering) and Zachary Berent (mechanical engineering). Learn more about The Grainger College of Engineering’s commitment to diversity at