People standing for a group photo
Faculty, staff and student members of the Health, Equity and Wellness Committee in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. (Rishi Donapati/UC Davis)

Engineering an Inclusive Future

And a Better World for All

The College of Engineering was again recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion by the American Society of Engineering Education, or ASEE, Diversity Recognition Program, achieving Bronze-level recognition for 2023 through 2025.

The ASEE Diversity Recognition Program was created to “publicly recognize those engineering and engineering technology colleges that make significant, measurable progress in increasing the diversity, inclusion and degree attainment outcomes of their programs.” The college was part of the first-ever group of recognized institutions to achieve the then-highest Bronze-level status in 2019.

A Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The college’s diversity and inclusion plan was developed in alignment with the UC Diversity Statement, the campus’s Principles of Community and the Strategic Vision for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, at UC Davis. It outlines the college’s commitment to achieving greater DEI in engineering, realizing that inclusive, diverse professions are more capable of determining meaningful solutions for today’s grand challenges and engineering a better world for all.

With leadership from the Faculty Advisor to the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Sanjeevi Sivasankar and in collaboration with various stakeholders, the college is making steady progress on its plan. Goals include:

  • Increase and support a diverse engineering faculty
  • Recruit and admit populations reflective of California’s diverse demographics
  • Retain, from matriculation to degree completion, populations reflective of California’s diverse demographics
  • Establish dedicated college infrastructure related to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Increase knowledge and understanding of issues of diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Improve accessibility for all

“I am excited to empower marginalized voices within the College of Engineering and promote an inclusive environment where diversity is celebrated,” said Sivasankar upon appointment.

Efforts to broaden participation at the graduate level have been expanded through new partnerships with minority-serving California State University campuses. Undergraduate retention initiatives like Leadership in Engineering Advancement, Diversity and Retention, or LEADR, for first-generation and historically underserved engineering students and AvenueE for transfer students, are proving successful. In 2023, a pilot program was launched to provide research, inclusion and mentoring experiences for doctoral student mentors and undergraduate student mentees.

Dedicated Infrastructure to Support DEI

A faculty- and staff-led DEI Committee was established in 2021 to advise and promote DEI initiatives collegewide. More than 20 staff and faculty from the Dean’s Office and several academic departments are involved. Representation ranges from early-career faculty to a tenured department chair among faculty, and individual contributors to a director among staff.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion to me means that everyone can bring their authentic self to work and reach their true potential,” said Cindy Rubio-González, associate professor of computer science, committee co-founder and the inaugural Faculty Advisor to the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. “Promoting DEI requires input from all stakeholders of the college. Thus, there was a need to form a committee bringing together staff and faculty to achieve a shared vision.”

The committee received a UC Davis Citation of Excellence for Faculty-Staff Partnership in 2022. The membership was recognized for working together to promote an open dialogue about complicated topics and engage in difficult conversations to collaboratively address DEI issues.

Subcommittees actively address DEI-related training and workshops, retention and culture, and curriculum, and student recruitment.

Departments have also established committees to promote DEI. The Health, Equity and Wellness, or HEW, Committee in the Department of Biomedical Engineering is one such example.

In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, the department created the HEW committee to promote greater DEI within the biomedical engineering community at UC Davis and improve all aspects of bolstering the health and wellness of everyone within the department. The committee is composed of faculty, staff, students, postdoctoral scholars and alumni.

“I think [our committee's strength in addressing health, equity and wellness issues] comes from having a group of people who are really passionate about all these issues and come together to discuss what needs to be done and then take action to get those things done,” said third-year Ph.D. student Hannah O’Toole.

Read the college's DEI plan

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