Tag Archive | "college of engineering"

Engineers Week Explores Diversity in STEM Disciplines


Engineers Week Explores Diversity in STEM Disciplines

Hundreds of students attend a week of events to learn more about engineering and change the perception that it’s not for women or minorities.

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 25, 2016) — When College of Engineering senior Kyrah Williams got up to speak during Tuesday’s A Force for Change, Diversity in STEM forum, she voiced a concern many of her fellow students have on their minds.

“When you look at me what do you see?” posed Williams, president of the University of Miami chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, which co-sponsored the event. “My outer appearance shows that I am an African-American woman. What you cannot see are my passions and plans to become a successful engineer. Due to first impressions of me, society will label me as a minority in the workplace and in life.”

Being stereotyped and feeling isolated were two of the many issues that were brought to light during the forum, which featured UM President Julio Frenk, College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet, and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely.

The forum, which drew about 50 students, faculty, and staff members to the UM Faculty Club, was part of Engineers Week, an annual weeklong celebration that calls attention to the contributions engineers make to society and emphasizes the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills. Other events included a duct tape competition, a demonstration of a concrete canoe built by UM engineering students, and the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” which welcomed more than 150 girls from South Florida high schools to the University to stimulate their interest in the world of engineering through lectures and activities.

“How can we foster issues of diversity in the workplace if we don’t start in our school?” Williams asked at last Tuesday’s diversity forum.

Frenk said he was pleased to join the conversation because the meeting was a confluence of two of his aspirations for the future of the University. UM strives to be an “excellent university” and thus be strong in the fields of applied sciences and engineering. A $100 million gift from longtime UM benefactors Phillip and Patricia Frost towards those academic areas makes that goal more attainable.

The president added that, as “an exemplary university,” UM has a responsibility to provide a model for the larger society through the values and behaviors it embraces. “The value of diversity is at the core of an exemplary university,” he said. “Diversity is the right thing to do because we value every life equally. Every human being deserves the same opportunity.”

Beyond diversity, Frenk said, the University has to develop a “sense of belonging” so that every individual feels like they are welcomed into the institution. “Stereotyping and assigning certain characteristics to a group of people corrodes that sense of belonging,” he said.

Reading from a letter that he co-signed with other deans from the American Society of Engineering Education, Bardet said he was committed to bringing in more Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans to STEM education and to the College of Engineering. As part of this commitment, Bardet said the college would create partnerships with more diverse institutions, such as Miami Dade College and Florida A&M University, with the goal of increasing underrepresented minorities at UM.

Also, the college will commit to hiring more minority faculty members. Bardet recognized Professor Vincent Omachonu, who was at the gathering and is the only African-American professor at the college, which has 57 full-time faculty members.

“The fact that we are having this conversation is a great step in a very positive direction,” Whitely said.

She also agreed that recruiting minority faculty had to be a priority since many could become mentors to students. “When you have those mentors, things are easier simply because somebody else has gone down the very same path and will be with you,” Whitely said.

During the question-and-answer period, students brought up concerns about their schools – which included lack of diversity in the faculty, lack of financial resources, and lack of support from the faculty, as well as curriculums that occasionally did not directly serve their needs.

Engineering senior Natasha Koermer said some of her female peers had been told not to pursue the engineering field because “it was not for women.”

Bardet committed to hearing more about their concerns, and said he would set up focus groups as a way to address and resolve them.

The UM chapters of Minority Women in Medicine and the National Association of Black Accountants also sponsored the forum.

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Engineering Professor Walks ‘In the Company of Women’


Engineering Professor Walks ‘In the Company of Women’

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

Helena Solo Gabriele

Helena Solo-Gabriele

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 17, 2016) –Professor Helena Solo-Gabriele, a University of Miami alumna and the associate dean for research in the College of Engineering, will be honored with the “In the Company of Women” award in the category of Science and Technology for her outstanding contributions to engineering as a teacher, mentor and researcher.

Coinciding with Women’s History Month and hosted by the Miami-Dade Commission for Women, The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, and Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces, the  annual “In the Company of  Women” awards honor outstanding women leaders in a dozen categories for their contributions to the Miami-Dade community.

An environmental engineer who has served on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientific panel, Solo-Gabriele has more than 16 years of research experience as a faculty member in water quality assessments and contaminant fate and transport. Her research has included the health risks associated with using chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood for marinas and decks, as well as the toxic effects of arsenic from pre-treated wood seeping through playgrounds and groundwater. She led the “Recreational Microbes” research group that evaluated the relationship between human health and the physical and microbiological characteristics of the coastal environment.

The award came as a surprise to Solo-Gabriele, who was nominated by her good friend and colleague, Ana Veiga Milton, who studied with her in high school and college.

“This award is extra special because it was done out of someone else’s true appreciation for me,” she said.

Calling Solo-Gabriele “truly remarkable,” Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering, noted her career  “has encompassed undergraduate and graduate teaching, funded research, and administrative activities in diverse interdisciplinary areas.”

The daughter of Cuban-American immigrants, Solo-Gabriele earned her B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering at the University of Miami and her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She is a past president of the Association of Cuban Engineers, which in collaboration with three other Florida colleges, seeks to help engineering professionals by promoting engineering education, providing networking opportunities, and most recently addressing engineering-related issues in Cuba’s future, specifically with respect to its crumbling physical infrastructure.

The awards ceremony will be held on 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at the Coral Gables Country Club. For more information, visit  http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/company-of-women.asp.


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College of Engineering Presents Distinguished Speaker Stan Settles on ‘Systems Engineering 263 MPH’ on February 29

Professor Emeritus Stan Settles, who served as chair of the University of Southern California’s Daniel J. Epstein Industrial & Systems Engineering Department and held the IBM Chair in Engineering Management, will present “Systems Engineering 263 MPH” on Monday, February 29, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the McArthur Engineering Annex, room 202. His talk will cover his experience in landspeed racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats and how it translated into a learning experience at USC. For more information, call 305-284-2344 or email d.berio@miami.edu.

The presentation will be broadcast live. To sign up for the live broadcast please visit the event link.


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Engineering Week Celebrates the Profession


Engineering Week Celebrates the Profession

E-Weel will include the popular

The University’s E-Week festivities include ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ on February 25.

The University of Miami’s Engineering Week kicks off on Monday, February 22 with a networking session hosted by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and will continue with exciting events aimed at creating awareness, particularly among girls and minorities, about the awesomeness of and the opportunities in the profession.

At the networking session, which will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at the McArthur Annex, room 202, recent College of Engineering (CoE) graduates who are entrepreneurs will talk about making career choices.

On Tuesday, February 23 at 5:30 p.m., the National Society of Black Engineers forum will feature UM President Julio Frenk, CoE Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet, and others discussing the importance of STEM careers and the crucial need for minority representation in the field. It will be held at the UM Faculty Club.

On Thursday, February 25, beginning at 9 a.m., the Society of Women Engineers will welcome more than 150 girls from South Florida high schools to the University’s “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” which through lectures and activities is designed to stimulate their interest in the world of engineering. The event is also sponsored by Women in Concrete Alliance and Re-Cast, Research and Concrete Applications for Sustainable Transportation.

Although the number of female engineers has increased greatly since the early 1980s, women make up only 14 percent of today’s engineers, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. The forum will be held at the Donna E. Shalala Student Activities Center.

The celebration of National Engineers Week was started in 1951 to coincide with the birthday of U.S. President George Washington, who is considered the nation’s first engineer, notably for his survey work.

For more information about E-Week at the University, visit http://coe.miami.edu/eab/eweek2016.

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President of the National Academy of Engineering Presents ‘Recognizing the Direction to the Future: Why it Matters’ on April 4

C.D. Mote

C.D. Mote

C.D. Mote, Jr., president of the National Academy of Engineering, will present the seminar “Recognizing the Direction to the Future: Why it Matters,” at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 4, in the McArthur Engineering Annex, room 202.  This presentation, which is part of the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Speaker Series, will focus on recognizing 21st century directions and stepping away from the 20th century.

This presentation will be broadcast live. To sign up for the live broadcast please visit the event link.

For more information, contact Marisol Pernas at 305-284-2571 or mpernas@miami.edu.


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