Hopkins Engineering dean joins other leaders in pledge to increase diversity

Deans of more than 100 leading U.S. engineering schools say they will create more opportunities for underrepresented groups

Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, joined leaders of more than 100 leading U.S. engineering schools in pledging to take steps to increase opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups to pursue meaningful careers in engineering.

Image caption: Ed Schlesinger

"Diversity and inclusiveness are essential for the development of creative solutions to the world's challenges and to enrich life," read a statement released Tuesday by the American Society for Engineering Education and signed by Schlesinger and deans of 101 other engineering schools.

"We understand that, at its most fundamental level, diversity is not just ethical human practice," Schlesinger added, "but also good engineering practice, and one that we cultivate through a variety of initiatives and programs."

Under Schlesinger's leadership, the Whiting School is engaged several efforts to increase professional and educational opportunities in engineering to underrepresented groups. The Whiting School's current activities in this area include:

  • Engineering Innovation, a national summer program offered through WSE"s Center for Educational Outreach that provides a diverse group of high school students with college-level courses in engineering, teaches them to think and problem-solve like engineers, exposes them to engineering career and educational opportunities, and gives them the chance to earn Johns Hopkins University credit.

  • Stem Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools, a program in which Johns Hopkins partners with Baltimore City Public Schools to improve educational outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and math through new STEM curricula, STEM extracurricular activities, and professional development for STEM teachers.

  • The Extreme Science Internships program, a partnership between the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute and Morgan State University, a historically black college, that pairs Morgan State students with Johns Hopkins researchers and those at other engineering schools in the U.S. and abroad.

  • A new STEM partnership with the Barclay School, a K-8 Baltimore City School near JHU's Homewood campus, in which the Whiting School and JHU are investing in improved STEM curricula, teacher training, and facilities.

  • Active recruitment of minority students, faculty, and staff across the school with the goal of significantly increasing the diversity of the school population over the coming decade.

The ASEE's statement was released in conjunction with the first-ever White House Demo Day, an event focused on inclusive entrepreneurship that welcomed startup founders from diverse walks of life to showcase their innovations. As part of the event, President Obama announced new public- and private-sector commitments aimed at providing more Americans with the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas.

From the White House release:

America's entrepreneurial economy is the envy of the world. But, we need to do more to make sure that we are tapping our full entrepreneurial potential – drawing on talented Americans from all backgrounds and locations.

Just 3 percent of America's venture capital-backed startups are led by women, and only around 1 percent are led by African-Americans. At present, only about 4 percent of U.S.-based venture capital investors are women. And, capital for innovative startups is predominantly available in just a few places, making high-growth business creation a challenge outside of a handful of metro hubs.

To maintain our lead as the best place on the planet to start and scale a great company, we must ensure that vibrant startup ecosystems emerge in every corner of America, and that all Americans, including those underrepresented in entrepreneurship like women and people of color, are both encouraged and able to fully contribute their entrepreneurial talents.