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Addressing Social Justice in Engineering Education & Research

Addressing Social Justice in Engineering Education & Research

3/9/2021 | 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Central Time

Dean Rashid Bashir moderated a virtual discussion with three Grainger Engineering thought leaders to discuss the college's approach to developing our pipeline for student diversity, sustaining our engagement through programming and community building, and elevating our societal impact. This webinar includes faculty presentations and a live Q & A.

To view the recording on MediaSpace, click here.

Additional Resources

Register for the GIANT Conference:

Don't miss the GIANT Conference on April 21, 2021 (9:30 AM - 12:30 PM CT). Join Director Lynford Goddard and seven teams led by students, staff, and faculty from Grainger Engineering as they discuss the key takeaways from their 2020-21 Grassroots Initiatives to Address Needs Together (GIANT) projects. This interactive Zoom session will include presentations and live Q & A from each team. Additionally, the seven new GIANT projects for 2021-22 will be introduced. Register here

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Select Q & A from the event:

  • How can alumni support college or departmental efforts impacting youth, prospective students, and current students as it relates to diversity, inclusion, equity, and access?
    • We like to think of this using the 3 W's: Work, Wisdom, and Wealth. Alumni and corporate support have helped us launch many of our programs and will continue to be important and necessary to help us sustain our programming and goals. We are also building out a mentoring platform through our Grainger Engineering Link. Ivan also discusses mentoring related efforts in his remarks.
  • Are there diversity and inclusion factors in professor/teaching assistant student evaluations?
    • For faculty, a campus committee just completed its work and recommendations on provost communication # 9, which provides guidelines for promotion and tenure. DEI activities are recommended to include the promotion and tenure criteria. Our goal is to evaluate and implement those recommendation for the college.  Hiring of new faculty now requires also providing a diversity statement in addition to research and teaching statements.
  • For all the programs discussed today what is the criteria that is being utilized to measure success against?  How is effectiveness being measured and used to improve programs?
    • Generally speaking, program effectiveness is being measured by looking at student progression through our programs. One of the focus areas for IDEA Institute is to do more evaluation and assessment of our existing programs. Through the GIANT program, we are supporting research on our initiatives.
  • How many students are reached through WYSE, and are there any plans to expand the number of students reached?  What are the impediments to doubling/tripling the reach?
    • Currently WYSE touches about 500 students each year in the summer, and another 200 during the school year in collaboration with organizational partnerships. We would love to grow. It’s a matter of human power and materials.
  • What other colleges or industry diversity programs are we using to benchmark against? Both in metrics and types of programs.
    • Some metrics are the enrollment or faculty count or other data that is publicly accessible in DMI.  For our programs, we benchmark mostly by discussing them at conferences such as those by ASEE.
  • Do any of your students - pre-college or at the U of I - engage in social justice-themed engineering service projects, to learn and apply engineering techniques and practices to work towards developing solutions to the challenges reflected in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals or NAE's Grand Challenges for Engineering?
    • Yes! There are many classes that focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and NAE’s Grand Challenges. We also bring these into the content of summer camps and courses. We need to compile a list, and there’s still more room to grow.
  • As schools focus on learning loss due to Covid, what do you consider best practices for building relationships with K-12 schools?
    • Great question! Remembering to keep the fun and excitement in STEM is going to be important in our work with the organizations we engage with. The motivation and thrill will also carry over into school classes.
  • What are the major challenges of these programs? e.g., Do they need promotion (people don’t know these programs)? Or they have capacity challenges (demand > availability)?
    • A huge obstacle is funding / staff. Many of our diversity-focused programs have strong demand and can expand capacity if there is additional funding to hire support staff, to offer scholarships, to expand the scope of work, etc. Promotion is another challenge but not as big.