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Professional Preparation of Underrepresented Minority Ph.D.'s and Postdocs for a Career in Engineering Academia

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Conference

2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference

Location

Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Faculty Track - Technical Session V

Tagged Topic

Faculty

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29564

Download Count

29

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Paper Authors

biography

Teresa J. Cutright University of Akron

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Dr. Cutright is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Akron. She has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with emphasis on environmental remediation techniques, and over 20 years of experience conducting site assessments, soil characterizations, and treatability studies for a variety of environmental contaminants. She also conducts education research via an EPA education grant, two NSF Scholarships for STEM education, and an NSF collaborative research grant to host 1.5- day workshops to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in engineering. Most recently, she and her colleagues were awarded an NSF collaborative research grant to host summer professional training and academic-year activities to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in engineering academia.

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Rebecca Kuntz Willits University of Akron

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Rebecca Kuntz Willits is the Margaret F. Donovan Endowed Chair for Women in Engineering, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Akron, and a member of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She obtained her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Tufts University, her M.S. in chemical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Cornell University. Her current research interests are at the intersection of nerve regeneration, tissue engineering, and biomaterials, and are funded by the NSF and NIH. As an educator, she has received STEM-based funding from the National Science Foundation to support undergraduate research, STEM scholarships, and diversity.

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Linda T. Coats Mississippi State University

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Lakiesha N. Williams Mississippi State University

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Dr. Lakiesha Williams is an Associate Professor in the department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Mississippi State University. Dr. Williams' research encompasses studying the biomechanics of soft tissues and the structure-function of energy mitigating materials to be used in the design of protective gear for soldiers and athletes. She actively works on recruitment and retention initiatives for underrepresented minority faculty at MSU. She recently organized and hosted the inaugural visiting scholars class to recruit URM faculty to MSU. Dr. Williams has received many awards for her scholarship and outreach achievements, including the 2017 National Role Model award from Minority Access, Inc.

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Debora F. Rodrigues University of Houston

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Debora F. Rodrigues received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology and Microbiology, respectively, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University in 2007. She was a postdoctoral associate in the Environmental Engineering Program at Yale University from 2007 to June 2010, with her research focus dealing with toxicity of carbon nanotubes to microorganisms, as well as the effect of bacterial surface structures on bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation and maturation. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and her research interests involve investigation of the toxicological effects of carbon-based nanomaterials and polymer nanocomposites to wastewater microbial communities and their potential applications for water treatment and corrosion prevention.

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Abstract

In engineering, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities are classified as underrepresented minorities. Although strides have been made at the undergraduate level, diversity in faculty and academic administration positions still lags. This paper will present our approach and preliminary results of a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored collaborative project to broaden the participation of underrepresented engineering minorities in engineering academia by providing participants with an improved skill set for entry into a faculty position. This project, comprised of a two-week intensive summer professional preparation training in conjunction with year-long activities, built upon the findings of a previous NSF 1.5-day workshop. The specific goals of the project include: 1. increase the awareness of what is "needed" to be an assistant professor; 2. quantify the specific areas PhD students and post-docs identified they need the most assistance with; 3. increase participant knowledge on effective STEM undergraduate learning; 4. advance the awareness and skills pertaining to curriculum development, delivery and assessment; 5. enhance the establishment of a research career; and 6. increase participant networking opportunities. Achievement of these goals will yield a more diverse and better prepared set of engineering educators, leading to better-equipped engineers entering the workforce.

The first summer intensive professional preparation had 12 participants from the host institution, universities in the same geographical regions as the host, and from the collaborating institutions. Seventy-five percent of the ACADEME (Advancing Career in Academics with Diversity and Mentorship in Engineering) Fellows strongly agreed that the summer training content was useful for his/her professional development and 100% agreed that they would recommend the program to their peers. In addition to providing the assessment results from the first summer professional training, this paper includes recommendations from ACADEME Fellows for enhancing future summer sessions, results of a survey of a non-cohort group, lessons learned from recruiting, and the most effective activities during the academic year.

Cutright, T. J., & Willits, R. K., & Coats, L. T., & Williams, L. N., & Rodrigues, D. F. (2018, April), Professional Preparation of Underrepresented Minority Ph.D.'s and Postdocs for a Career in Engineering Academia Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29564

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