October 2018 Newsletter
Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Improving an ever-changing world requires the knowledge and skillsets of a highly diverse engineering community. We need more engineers, and we need engineers who add value to the teams they serve by bringing different perspectives and experiences to the table to solve problems.
Essential to that vision is finding new ways to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities among our students and faculty in the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho.
By signing the Dean’s Diversity Letter released by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in 2014, our college established a firm commitment to build a more vibrant engineering community on campus. Our college has a diversity plan in place to guide our actions as we work to become more inclusive and diverse with regard to gender, race, or any other characteristic that makes our student body unique.
I recently traveled to the NSF/ASEE Engineering Deans Forum on Broadening Participation with many other engineering deans across the country to discuss how other engineering programs are approaching diversity and to present our college’s plan to build a more inclusive community of faculty, staff, and students.
Our approach is a long-term effort with phased implementation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of our efforts in the months and years to come. It is exciting to see our college work with others to change our profession for the better.
It’s especially important for me to tackle this issue, especially with regard to retaining and supporting current women students, because this is where we can have the most immediate impact. We will prepare better graduates for the workforce, both men and women.
We recently had the opportunity to collect and critique strategies for retaining and supporting women students during the Women in Engineering Symposium held in Boise this September. With the help of 50 industry partners, alumni, faculty and students, we took a look at how we aim to support women students’ self-efficacy and resiliency while making it easier to acclimate and find a sense of community within our college. We came away with specific ideas on how we want to proceed.
We also remain committed to activities that maintain a connection to K-12 students while strengthening our college’s stance on diversity.
Our annual Women in Engineering Day was held this month to welcome 11th and 12th graders from across Idaho and Washington. These high-achieving young women and their parents learned about the vast opportunity in engineering careers and also gained personal insight into the culture of our campus.
Being on campus and meeting with faculty and staff helps these future Vandals experience first-hand the compassionate and close-knit community we have created at U of I.
It is inspiring work to help more young women and underrepresented minorities see there is a place for them in our college and the ways their success is supported on this campus. Our alumni and industry partners continue to bring energy to this effort and play a large role in helping us shape the next steps – let us know if you’d like to get involved.
I look forward to sharing more with you as our college continues to drive change and establish infrastructure where diverse populations of engineering faculty, staff and students thrive.
Larry A. Stauffer
Dean, College of Engineering
Idaho Natives Establish Endowment to Support Diversity & Inclusive Initiatives
Byron and Karen Flynn believe that higher education is a critical element to enrich life and move our state forward and that it should be a welcoming and enriching place for everyone.
It is this belief that led them to create the College of Engineering Dean’s Endowment to Support Diversity & Inclusive Initiatives. They’ve offered a challenge to match gifts up to $10,000 to kick off funding for diversity and inclusion programs.
Byron and Karen both grew up in small farming towns in Southern Idaho. The U of I campus provided an ideal place for them to learn, grow and succeed.
This endowment will help build a vibrant climate of inclusiveness within the College of Engineering and across our statewide campuses that will result in teaching and learning environments that foster our collective capabilities.
Support our engineering diversity and inclusion initiatives by making a gift to the College of Engineering Dean’s Endowment to Support Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives and Byron & Karen will match your gift!
Celebrating the Micron Student Center
On Oct. 19, College of Engineering faculty, staff, alumni and donors celebrated the naming and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Micron Student Center in the Janssen Engineering Building.
Funded entirely through donor philanthropy, this center brings together resources and staff to help current and future engineering and computer science students through academic and career advising, and other support.
Many of the 37 donors who contributed to this project were in attendance during the dedication ceremony.
Micron Human Resources Senior Vice President April Arnzen gave opening remarks along with Dean Larry Stauffer. Attendees then had the opportunity to tour the new center and see which rooms benefited from their financial contributions.
Placards next to each office denote which donors contributed to which spaces. View more photos from the ceremony on Facebook.
Students Attend National Women Engineering Conference
Nine of our engineering students recently attended the Society of Women Engineers’ Women Engineering Conference this last weekend. The conference is the largest conference of its kind in the world, bringing together women engineers from all disciplines and age groups. With about 11,000 women in attendance, it’s a great opportunity for our students to network, be inspired and take their career to the next level with lots of professional development opportunities.
SpaceX Co-Founder Travels Home to St. Maries, Idaho
Alumnus Tom Mueller encourages elementary students to focus on career and positivity
Tom Mueller had no reservations telling groups of St. Maries High School juniors and seniors that his resume after college wasn’t that stellar. Mueller grew up in the small north Idaho town working as a logging-truck driver over the summers, but small-town life doesn’t have to equate to a small-town career.
The rocket development engineer spent 15 years with TRW, before joining Elon Musk and Chris Thompson in 2002 to start what would become SpaceX.
Mueller attributes his success to his positivity and ability to get out in the field, something he encouraged students in the audience to also do.
“A lot of times we worry most about the things that don’t matter,” he said. “How many likes you get on Facebook or whether or not a person at school likes you – don’t obsess about those things, obsess about your career.”
Engineering Ambassadors traveled with Mueller to lead students in hands-on activities, including building small boats capable of holding as many pennies as possible. Senior high-schoolers were challenged to build a paper tower using the fewest resources.
Engineering Ambassadors are a vital constituent in assisting our college in the recruitment and retention of highly qualified students. Students work closely with the college while developing communication and leadership skills, and networking with other professionals.