Emir José Macari, dean of the University of New Orleans' College of Engineering, is among more than 100 engineering deans across the country to sign a letter this week pledging to attract and retain a more diverse student body in order to build the pipeline for the next generation of American engineers and entrepreneurs.
The pledge was part of President Barack Obama's first-ever Demo Day, which was held on Aug. 4 at the White House, and focused on inclusive entrepreneurship. Start-up founders from diverse walks of life showcased their innovations and President Obama announced new public and private commitments that promise to provide more Americans with the opportunity to pursue bold ideas.
The letter signed by the engineering deans commits to four actions that will increase diversity among engineering students. First, they will develop a concrete diversity plan for their engineering programs, with input from national organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. Second, they will undertake an annual equity and inclusion climate survey of faculty, students and staff, with the goal of assessing and increasing the effectiveness of the diversity plan developed.
Third, they commit to at least one K-12 pipeline activity with targeted goals and measures of accountability aimed at increasing the diversity of the student body in their institutions. And fourth, they commit to developing strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-Ph.D.-granting engineering schools serving populations underrepresented in engineering.
"President Obama's call for increasing diversity in engineering is one that matches the goals and mission of the UNO College of Engineering," Macari said. "This year we will work very closely with our student chapters of the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to help us better recruit students into our College so we better represent the demographics of our city, our state and the nation. It is not only the right thing to do but if we are successful in recruiting and graduating these students, we will be providing the high-octane fuel that our region's economic engine needs and make New Orleans a better place to live and work."
The University of New Orleans offers the only civil and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering programs in the metro area. It also has the only naval architecture and marine engineering program in the region and one of the few in the nation.