ASEE Bronze Award.

75 engineering programs were recognized, and among them were the Rutgers School of Engineering and the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Photo ©Rutgers SoE.

A total of 75 university engineering programs nationwide were honored in ASEE’s inaugural Diversity Award class, and both the University at Buffalo and Rutgers School of Engineering were among an elite group to receive “exemplary” standing.

Partners of the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) recently received the Bronze Award in the first year of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Diversity Recognition Program, the highest level currently available.

Both Rutgers School of Engineering (SoE) and the University at Buffalo’s (UB) School of Engineering and Applied Sciences received the honor, among an inaugural class of 75 engineering programs. Additionally, both schools were recognized as “exemplary,” putting them among the top 29 programs highlighted by ASEE.

Noting data on the underrepresentation of various minority groups in the industry, the ASEE Board of Directors declared a “Year of Action on Diversity” and implemented a number of awareness activities. According to ASEE, in 2017 its Engineering Deans Council issued the ASEE Deans Diversity Pledge.

The pledge included goals such as committing to the development and implementation of strategies to increase representation of diverse groups among faculty, committing to at least one K-12 or community college pipeline activity, and developing a diversity plan, among other outcomes. To help reach these goals and recognize the colleges making significant progress, the Diversity Recognition Program was created.

Being the first year of the program, bronze was the only award level available and exemplary status was reserved for programs that ASEE found to be “significant.” According to ASEE, future recognition will include bronze, silver, and gold, and schools will be able to resubmit for silver in the next round of reviews set to open in fall 2020.

“The Bronze level recognition means that your school is among the nation’s leaders in exclusive excellence,” Gregory Washington, Chair of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council, said in the award letter according to UB. “I commend you for your progress and thank you for your support of this important ASEE EDC Initiative.”

The UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences highlighted several initiatives that the school has taken on, especially in the last few years, in a news release.

These include appointing a Diversity Officer in the school and establishing a STEM Diversity Programs office, increasing faculty diversity, strengthening recruiting practices, and establishing new and strengthening existing K-12 partnerships, among other initiatives according to UB.

The school also highlighted its commitment to increasing the recruitment and retention of women in engineering through supporting the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program, which provides academic, social, and professional development opportunities and resources to female students in STEM majors, as well as providing a week-long engineering summer camp for high school women.

“It is a credit to our entire school community that our diversity and inclusion efforts are being recognized nationally, and this award highlights that we are moving in the right direction,” said Rajan Batta, interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the news release.

The Rutgers SoE highlighted its own initiatives in a news release too.

Specifically, its Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) and the expanded Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), signature initiatives that offer financial and academic assistance to low-income New Jersey residents who show academic and creative promise, but who lack adequate resources for college.

“The School of Engineering faces the particular challenge of a crucial, national STEM shortfall,” said School of Engineering dean Tom Farris in the news release. “Mindful of this reality, the school seeks to build on and further its reputation as a leader in undergraduate and graduate engineering education by offering a progressive experience that is attuned to student needs related to education and career readiness.”

The school also highlighted the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP); National Action Council For Minorities in Engineering (NACME); The Academy at Rutgers for Girls in Engineering and Technology (TARGET); and the Reilly-Douglass Engineering Living-Learning Community for undergraduate women engineering students.

“We are dedicated to fostering and supporting a diverse and inclusive student community and are honored that our leadership in this vital area has been acknowledged by an inaugural ASEE Bronze Award for Diversity,” Farris said.