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A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force within a Mechanical Engineering Department

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Critical Conversations on Being Valued

Tagged Divisions

Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education

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Paper Authors


Dustyn Roberts P.E. University of Pennsylvania

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Dustyn Roberts received her B.S. in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (2003), her M.S. in Biomechanics & Movement Science (2004) from the University of Delaware, and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (2014) from New York University. She is passionate about translational research and engineering education.

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Robert W. Carpick University of Pennsylvania

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Robert Carpick is the John Henry Towne Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania. He studies nanotribology, nanomechanics, and scanning probes. He is a recipient of the ASME Newkirk Award, a R&D 100 award, and a NSF CAREER Award. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, the AVS, and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. He holds 6 patents and has authored over 190 peer-reviewed publications. Previously, he was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his B.Sc. (University of Toronto, 1991) and his Ph.D. (University of California at Berkeley, 1997) in Physics, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia National Laboratory. He served as Department Chair from 2011-2019, and currently serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for his department.

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The events and movements of 2020 have put into stark relief the fact that most academic institutions are not doing enough to address issues of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion among undergraduates. More specifically, these topics are often considered tangential to core engineering topics, and are therefore relegated to breadth requirements for coverage, if at all. Over the course of the last several months, our department, college, and university have begun to create institutional structures to support these efforts. There is a new Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the college level, and at the department level a new Director of DEI position was created and filled (by one of the authors). This person has also created a DEI Task Force within the department (on which the other author is serving). While the full mandate of the DEI Task Force is still taking shape, the main goal is to tackle pressing issues related to DEI in the department, and to develop a longer-term action plan to address these issues. This will begin as a descriptive research project to take an honest look at where we are as a department to generate baseline data against which future interventions can be compared. Over the past year there have been several curricular (e.g. teamwork and bias training, inclusive teaching) and extra-curricular (e.g. a #ShutdownSTEM discussion, undergraduate DEI town hall) efforts made along these lines, and this Task Force will continue and coordinate these efforts. External funding is currently being sought after to support these longitudinal efforts. So, while this is submitted as a work in progress paper, we are looking forward to sharing our efforts in more detail on how re-thinking institutional structures that support DEI efforts can look and on the results of our early efforts.

Roberts, D., & Carpick, R. W. (2021, July), A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force within a Mechanical Engineering Department Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36577

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