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ANN ARBOR, MICH. — To solve the world’s most pressing challenges and to seize its most exciting technological opportunities, we need a diverse workforce of globally competent and creative engineers, University of Michigan College of Engineering officials say. To move toward that goal, the college has launched a new Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach (CEDO).

“The compelling imperative for the center is to take what we’ve been doing to another level — a level that recognizes that today’s engineers not only must come from all corners of our nation, but be globally competent to meet our world’s challenges,” said Robert Scott, CEDO director.

The center brings together three existing offices that work in outreach to K-12 students and schools, women, and underrepresented minority students. While these offices have undertaken great effort to increase the diversity and success of engineering students, their results have mirrored national trends of flat or declining numbers.

“Engineering graduates at Michigan and beyond don’t represent the demographics of the nation. Critical issues for our nation such as climate change and energy mean we can’t afford to leave bright, creative contributors out of our profession,” said David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. The center is about changing the game.

“Our vision is to produce 21st-century engineers — an increasingly diverse, globally competent, and creative engineering workforce ready to innovate and change the world,” he said.

CEDO merges the Multicultural Engineering Programs Office (MEPO), the engineering branch of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), and the Office of Engineering Outreach and Engagement (OE2). Its mission is threefold:

  • To develop a K-12 engineering pipeline: The center will broaden the efforts of OE2 and integrate outreach efforts previously targeted at underrepresented minorities and women. It will work with education, industry, and university partners to create inspiring programs. The college is leading a statewide effort to include engineering education standards in the Michigan K-12 curriculum, as four other states have done, and it will continue this effort.
  • To support success for a diverse student body: The center will continue to support academic success for all students and ensure access to college transition programs for underrepresented minority students, women, transfer students, and those from abroad. CEDO will work to ensure that these students thrive, continuing and expanding the efforts of WISE and MEPO.
  • To foster an inclusive environment and instill cross-cultural competencies: Engineers of today work in a global environment where they often find themselves on multicultural teams. CEDO will strive to prepare Michigan’s engineers for this reality. CEDO will hold lectures and seminars, organize experiences to enable working across differences, encourage more students to have an international experience, and provide more opportunities for cross-cultural exchange among current international and domestic students.

“From their first steps on this campus, all [College of Engineering] students should begin to interact with a mix of people in meaningful ways — learning from each other, developing academic and interpersonal skills, and ultimately leaving campus fully prepared to work with anyone, anywhere,” Munson said.

CEDO was launched in early October 2010 with a talk by Shirley Malcolm, head of education and human resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. CEDO’s new office will be located in the Chrysler Building in New York City.

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