College of Engineering News Room

USF College of Engineering Recognized as a National Leader in Inclusivity

The college received a Bronze Level award from the American Society for Engineering Education.

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) has recognized the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida as a national leader in inclusive excellence. The College received a Bronze Level award (the highest award given this review cycle) that recognizes the college’s commitment to establishing outreach programs and initiatives that reduce the significant barriers to underrepresented minorities (URM) and women in engineering.

asee bronze award

Over the past 10 years, the college has made significant inroads into the greater Tampa Bay community targeting K-12 students, community colleges and minority serving institutions that have helped to broaden participation and diversity in the engineering workforce.

“To have any hope of successfully addressing global challenges, we need to create places and spaces that foster creativity and encourage a wide range of perspectives and ideas,” said Dr. Robert H. Bishop, Dean of the College of Engineering. “A diverse engineering workforce provides that creative platform and has the potential to make enormous innovative intellectual contributions to society.”

The College of Engineering created multi-prong approaches to address this.

1. Extensive talent acquisition and outreach efforts aimed at recruiting undergraduate students, primarily targeting high schools to present the College of Engineering as an excellent academic environment, which is both inclusive and multi-cultural. Various engineering awareness events were implemented with high schools such as Lakewood High School (67% URM) and Middleton High School (80% URM). Multiple URM student groups (SHPE, ESTEAM, SWE, WiCSE, NSBE) also work with K-12 high schools to motivate high school students to consider engineering at USF as well as signature, faculty-led K-12 engineering awareness campaigns such as Bulls-EYE Mentoring (led by Dr. Jonathan Gaines) and WARE (led by Dr. Maya Trotz).

2. Establishment of partnerships with NSF LSAMP Bridge to the Baccalaureate institutions (Saint Petersburg College, Hillsborough Community College, and State College of Florida) and the University of the Virgin Islands with the goal of providing new engineering career pathways for historically underrepresented students. 

3. The college created an early tracking mentoring system for students in need. Apart from the Engineering Living and Learning Communities, there are approximately 40 course-based learning teams that help students with difficult courses to aid in the retention of students

4. The College of Engineering is one of nine institutions (Georgia Tech, Cornell, Penn State, MIT, Duke, UC-San Diego, U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and USF) awarded a University Center of Exemplary Mentoring grant, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and an eight-time recipient of the NSF Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate activity.  Both initiatives led by Executive Associate Dean Dr. Jose Zayas-Castro and Bernard Batson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Programs. Over the years these grants have had significant impact in URM graduate student recruitment, mentoring, and success.

5. College leadership has also emphasized the need to hire women and URM faculty and every search committee has embraced the philosophy of inclusion.

“The College of Engineering faculty, staff and students have embraced inclusion and cultural competency at their heart,” said Dr. Sanjukta Bhanja, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. “Because of these efforts, we have seen an 11 percent improvement in the six-year graduation rate for women and a 14 percent increase in the six-year graduation rate for URM students over last three years.”

Moreover, the graduation rate of URM students has exceeded that of the non-URM students. Women and URM students were retained at year two at a higher rate over men and non-URM students in the engineering graduate programs.

The college will continue to follow the inclusive paradigm created by faculty, staff, students, leadership and alumni as it strives to reach better demographic representation with respect to race and ethnicity, while paying special attention to increase the number of women at the undergraduate level and encouraging them to pursue higher study and become faculty role models.

About the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida
The College of Engineering at the University of South Florida comprises seven departments, serving nearly 7,000 students and offers ABET-accredited undergraduate degrees in seven programs, as well as 12 master’s and eight doctoral degrees.  The College has 12 major research centers and institutes, and is actively engaged in local and global research activities with foci on sustainability, biomedical engineering, computing technology and transportation.  For the fiscal year 2017-2018, the College had $36 million in research expenditures as reported to ASEE. 

About the American Society for Engineering Education
The mission of the American Society for Engineering Education is to advance innovation, excellence, and access at all levels of education for the engineering profession with the vision of ASEE as the pre-eminent authority on the education of engineering professionals.