The University of New Orleans has received a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to create a Center for Equity and Diversity in Engineering. The new center will foster the educational and professional development of a diverse engineering talent pool at the only public metropolitan research university in the state.
“The United States has declined in global prominence in the areas of science and engineering, in part due to the existence of barriers that prevent access to and success in post-secondary STEM education,” said UNO President John Nicklow, a professor of civil engineering and the principal investigator on the grant. “For students from historically underrepresented groups, those barriers can often be insurmountable. This center will work to provide pathways for those students to address the need for a more diverse and inclusive engineering workforce in the region.”
The Center for Equity and Diversity in Engineering within UNO’s Dr. Robert A. Savoie College of Engineering will target four specific goals:
• Improve the diversity of UNO’s engineering enrollment to better reflect the metro area’s demographics;
• increase the first-year retention rate among historically underrepresented engineering students;
• improve the graduation rate of historically underrepresented engineering students; and
• increase the percentage of engineering graduates who are women.
The center will serve all engineering students and faculty but will give special focus to improving recruitment, retention, and degree completion of women and engineers from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
In order to achieve the center’s goals, the University will recruit a diverse engineering student body and faculty, implement effective and equitable academic support programs, and establish an engineering learning community that builds a culture of confidence, belonging and pride.
The University of New Orleans is well-positioned to undertake this initiative. The Dr. Robert A. Savoie College of Engineering offers the only civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programs in metro New Orleans, and the Boysie Bollinger School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering is one of the few such programs in the nation.