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School of Engineering SIE update September 2022

DEPARTMENT(S): 
September 20, 2022

The School of Engineering (ENGR) is focusing on four main goals that encompass the overarching SIE framework. Each department and program has additional goals, but we are all working towards the following goals in a concerted effort:

Goal 1: Ensure seminar speakers and topics represent the diverse identities of the WPI community and center marginalized and underserved voices.

  • We are inviting speakers for our seminar series whose identities and/or work center and elevate the voices of those who are marginalized and underserved. For example, the Department of Biomedical Engineering has begun an annual “Sotak Lecture” focused on diverse speakers and topics; in April, Aaron Kyle, a Black professor at Columbia, spoke about his outreach program for marginalized high school students in NYC. Further, 50% of the 14 BME seminar speakers were female this past academic year.
  • To further facilitate this goal, the ENGR SIE has created an optional invited speaker demographics form.

Goal 2: Create a climate of inclusion and action towards equity.

  • We are inviting students to department committees, meetings, and advisory boards.
  • We are leveraging department meetings to increase faculty and staff awareness of student support resources and for anti-bias discussions; many departmental retreats in AY22 included substantial discussions about more inclusive practices and mental health and wellbeing.

Goal 3: Develop and promote inclusive strategies for course development.

  • To facilitate the addition of DEI statements in syllabi for ENGR courses, we have developed and distributed examples to instructors and posted examples in the Morgan Center for Teaching and Learning Canvas site. The majority of ENGR course syllabi now have such inclusive statements.
  • We are also encouraging faculty to add inclusive content to courses including examples from different viewpoints, cultures, genders, and races. For example, seeing only men depicted in the textbooks for her mechanics courses, Prof. Wodin-Schwartz includes more diverse genders for individuals appearing in example problems, and she shares these with other faculty teaching similar courses.

Goal 4: Recruit, hire, and retain faculty from marginalized and/or underrepresented communities

  • ENGR aims to have all faculty search committee members trained in best practices in inclusive and equitable recruitment and hiring processes. We have created a search committee training in Canvas with a focus on searching for excellence and diversity and mitigating biases. We are also working with Talent and Inclusion to create an in-person training and to more easily generate demographic reports of the candidate pools to drive a more inclusive recruitment strategy.