Colleen Bronner and Alin Wakefield
From left: Colleen Bronner, associate professor of teaching in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Alin Wakefield, research and graduate studies development coordinator in the Dean’s Office

Advocating for Equity in Engineering

A new undergraduate class focuses on how DEI principles impact engineering practices

A new course for undergraduate students in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Davis, explores the vital intersection of diversity, equity and inclusion within the engineering field.  

Led by faculty-staff duo Colleen Bronner and Alin Wakefield, ECI 198 – "Advocating for Equity in Engineering" positions DEI as integral to all engineering decisions. The goal: Empower future engineers to promote diversity and drive innovation through advocacy of inclusive and equitable solutions that benefit society as a whole. 

Weekly class sessions feature guest lecturers from several academic departments, and course content encourages dialogue, reflection and action among a community of students. 

Bronner emphasized the focus on empowering future engineers to be changemakers: "The idea is, 'What can I do? What can you do to make a change?' You can't change the whole system in one day, but you can start to change things that affect your circles and have a ripple effect."  

Launched in fall 2023 and open to all engineering under-graduate students, the course is an outcome of a curriculum-focused subcommittee of the college's DEI Committee.  

"It is important that we show that there's a place in the curriculum," said Wakefield. "[DEI] is something we can learn about the same way we learn about thermodynamics or other aspects of engineering."  

This article was originally featured in the Fall 2023 Engineering Progress Magazine. 

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