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GEDC Airbus Diversity Award

for engineering education


The Airbus GEDC Diversity Award aims to shine a light on successful projects that inspire students from all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering. The award was developed and funded by Airbus in partnership with the GEDC, the leading international organisation for leaders of schools and colleges of engineering education. Launched in 2012, the award is now in its 6th year. For the 2018 edition, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation have partnered with Airbus for the award.

Diversity Award shortlist announcement


About the Award

The 2018 award will be given to the project that demonstrates best use of technology to enhance diversity in engineering education. Alongside the significant global visibility and recognition, a financial reward will go to the winning project.

Entries for the 2018 Airbus GEDC Diversity Award are now closed. The finalist projects will be announced in October 2018. Find out more about the 2018 shortlist, previous finalists and award recipients below.

The long-term goal of the Airbus GEDC Diversity Award is to increase diversity among the global community of engineers so that the engineering industry reflects the diversity of the communities it supports, with diversity recognised as a driver for innovation and growth.

What is the Global Engineering Deans Council?

Airbus is a corporate member of the GEDC (Global Engineering Deans Council). This is a leading global organisation whose members are individuals responsible for setting the agenda for higher education in engineering in their countries and universities. 

What Do We Mean by Diversity?

Based on The American Society for Engineering Education definition, diversity is the inclusion of individuals that represent variations in gender, race, ethnic background, disability, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, nationality and other non-visible differences resulting in an environment rich in intellectual variety and respect for the individual, and optimally suited to address the technological, business and societal needs of the future.

Award Process and Timing

Award Process and Timing

The 2018 award is now closed for entries.

Nine projects have been shortlisted based on the evaluation criteria by an Award Committee made up of representatives from Airbus, the GEDC and UNESCO.

From the shortlist, three projects will be selected as finalists and the Project Representatives are invited to attend the WEEF-GEDC Conference, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA from 12 to 16 November 2018.

During the WEEF-GEDC conference, the winning project will be announced, with a prize of 10,000 USD awarded to the project team to support the continuation of their work. The two runner-up projects will receive 1,500 USD each to support further communication about their initiatives.

2018 Finalist Projects

Project Title: SaviaLab
Organisation: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Country: Chile
STEM education for indigenous minorities and young people in rural areas, bridging the gap of opportunities. Individuals are taught tools for context assessment to create initial prototypes, and at a more advanced level, receive a technological workshop including 3D printing (Fused Deposition Modelling) and basic programming of an Arduino (microcontroller). Since 2014, the project has engaged over 3,300 students from 7 regions. The project also empowers the minorities within its Engineering programme (women and first-generation university students) who travel around Chile, training teams and teachers, and become role models to young people who start viewing STEM careers as an opportunity.

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Project Title: iSTEAM Underwater Robot Competition
Organisation: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Country: Hong Kong
A robot design competition for children of all backgrounds and abilities, including those with special educational needs, disabilities, and underprivileged and ethnic minorities. Participants discover 3D printing technologies, laser cutting techniques and NFC technologies, and receive a virtual budget to purchase components for their robots. They benefit from a stimulating iSTEAM learning experience (inclusion, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design and Mathematics) through collaboration with other teams and mentoring by multi-disciplinary university students. Over 1000 children from 139 schools have participated since 2015. The project aims to nurture the engineers of the future and contribute to the inclusiveness of society.

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Project Title: NASA Swarmathon
Organisation: University of New Mexico
Country: USA
A swarm robotics programming challenge for students from Minority Serving Institutions. Teams program robots to autonomously locate and manoeuvre resources into a collection zone. Students construct robots using cameras, ultrasounds, magnetometers and motors, and use software collaboration and computer modelling tools to develop algorithms for search, localisation, sensor fusion, distributed communication and automated detection. Funded by NASA Education, the year-long competition culminates in a three-day tournament at Kennedy Space Center. In the first 3 years, over 1,500 students participated, 63% from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups. Students gained the skills and confidence to succeed in STEM postgraduate courses and careers.

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2018 Shortlist

Project Title: AIMS² Program
Organisation: California State University, Northridge
Country: USA
AIMS² (Attract, Inspire, Mentor and Support Students) endeavours to increase the enrolment and graduation of low-income, Hispanic and underrepresented students of Engineering and Computer Science. A cohort model reinforces the positive effects of student-faculty interaction, peer-peer interaction, and student research participation. Students are supported with stipends, iPads for use in their classes and research projects, mentoring by faculty and peers, social activities, field trips and opportunities to take part in paid research projects. Several students have co-authored peer-reviewed conference and journal publications with their faculty mentors. The project, now in its seventh year, has served over 350 students to date.

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Project Title: Bridging professorship: Gender and Diversity in Engineering
Organisation: RWTH Aachen University
Country: Germany
Opens new interdisciplinary perspectives within Engineering and Technology and fosters responsible research and innovation through the consideration of gender and diversity issues. Integrates the perspectives of gender and diversity as core aspects of responsible technological development through 14 courses and lectures, which help students understand how to include those perspectives in their future work as socially responsible engineers. To enhance their learning, students use Skype, flipped classrooms, tele conferences and audio recordings of lectures. Students are encouraged to use technology creatively to present their findings in their group projects. E-learning platforms and e-tests are used to track their learning success.

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Project Title: Invent for the Planet
Organisation: Texas A&M University
Country: USA
An intensive design experience in which universities around the world collaborate to solve global problems provided by agencies and global partners. Diverse and multidisciplinary teams of students from undergraduates to PhD candidates develop a prototype and pitch to a panel of judges. Students use Microsoft Teams, a global collaboration platform, and makerspaces containing rapid prototyping equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, metalworking, AR/VR hardware/software, web implementation tools, micro controllers and sensors. Students are encouraged to consider the cultural aspects of their solutions. In 2018, 400 students participated across 5 continents. The 2019 event will involve up to 50 locations worldwide.

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Project Title: Rural Women Technology Park
Organisation: Vardhaman College of Engineering
Country: India
An agricultural project which gives rural women the tools to increase their household income. Technology is used for the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, including cultivation of robust and high-value crops and value-added products; five women trained at RWTP were able to cultivate 400kg of quinoa. Centralised hatcheries help to promote backyard poultry as an additional source of income. The project maintains connections to R&D institutes for the promotion and development of technologies. The initiative aims not only to improve women’s economic conditions, but also to provide social and gender-based equity, enabling rural women to participate equally in decision-making processes.

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Project Title: Three-Pronged Strategy
Organisation: Northern Illinois University
Country: USA
A three-pronged approach to narrow the equity gap and improve retention and graduation rates of undergraduate Engineering and Technology students. Smartphone friendly, 5-minute solution videos explaining complex engineering concepts are developed using Educreations app and have contributed to an 11% increase in students achieving grades of A/B. Students can access over 400 videos via Blackboard, an online course management system. Secondly, students participate in Developing Spatial Thinking workshops which include software models, online getting started sketching videos and online mini lectures. Thirdly, teaching assistants and tutors receive cultural sensitivity training to inculcate appropriate pedagogical approaches and foster an inclusive environment.

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Project Title: Urban Gull Project: From Gulls to Drones
Organisation: University of Bristol
Country: United Kingdom
A workshop run by an international team of volunteers to inspire disadvantaged young people to choose a career in STEM. Pupils design and fly drones to see the benefit of bio-inspired engineering and understand technology limitations, including battery life, gust control and navigation. Students learn about state-of-the-art research including sophisticated animal tracking and wind modelling techniques. They can also talk to university students about career options. The project aims to demonstrate that STEM careers are not gender, socio-economic status or ethnicity dependent. 36% of the participants not interested in Engineering before the workshop would now consider a career in Engineering.

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Airbus GEDC Diversity Award Recipients

2016 Award Recipient – Dr. Yacob Astatke is Assistant VP for International Affairs at Morgan State University in the USA. For the past 13 years, he has worked to improve the delivery of engineering education in Ethiopia through teaching graduate courses, sharing best practice and delivering training. He led the implementation of Mobile Studio Technology and pedagogy in five universities in Ethiopia and has been instrumental in facilitating the donation of equipment and other resources.

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2015 Award recipient – Professor Fadi Aloul from the American University of Sharjah, UAE was selected as the Award recipient for his key role in developing a common first-year programme at the AUS, which introduces undergraduate students to the engineering profession, stimulating their critical thinking, creativity and innovation. To date, over 10,000 students from 92 nationalities have taken part, with an average of 35 percent female students. 

More information about Fadi's project here

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2014 Award recipient - Marita Cheng, from Australia, is the founder of Robogals Global, an initiative designed to inspire girls aged 10-14 to choose engineering and technical careers, and to create a global community of engineering students committed to the cause of greater diversity. Through a varied meme of workshops, training, student challenges, a Robogal Ambassador programme and a dedicated outreach programme for rural and regional areas, Robogals has so far reached over 20,000 girls worldwide, utilising a largely volunteer workforce of university students. In six years, it has grown from a single university chapter to an international organisation.

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2013 Award recipient - Ana Lazarin, Director of Programme to Broaden Participation in Engineering, Wichita State University, USA. Ana’s Engineering Summer Camps, Changing Faces Programme, and Community Outreach Events capture the interest of underrepresented students by educating them about both the different fields of engineering and what engineers really do. A primary goal is to convince students at an early age that they can succeed in college, and especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers.

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2017 Winning Project - BIRDS Satellite Project
The Kyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu, Japan
The BIRDS Satellite Project trains graduate students from developing countries in using cost-effective innovative systems engineering to execute a comprehensive two-year satellite project, with the long-term goal of equipping them to commence a sustainable space programme in their respective home countries. The collaborative programme provides a unique opportunity for young engineers to compete in today’s global market, teaching specialised waste-minimising systems engineering models, developing core skills and also building a supportive peer network. The project also creates a sustainable pathway for participants to implement training initiatives in their home countries, further contributing to the diversification and globalisation of engineering skills.

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Airbus GEDC Diversity Award Finalists

2016 Finalist – Dawn Bonfield, former Chief Executive of the UK’s Women’s Engineering Society, UK

Dawn Bonfield MBE is former Chief Executive of the UK’s Women’s Engineering Society, where she created National Women in Engineering Day, a UK national awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the exciting career opportunities available to girls in the engineering sector. Now in its 3rd edition, the event’s success and impact has multiplied with supporters and organisations adopting the Day, carrying out their own initiatives, events and celebrations.

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2015 Finalist – Renetta Tull, Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Student Development & Postdoctoral Affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA

Renetta leads the Promise Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate to train undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early-career faculty. This programme includes a global STEM diversity and inclusion initiative, and aims to build global engineering workforce capacity through focused attention on increasing the numbers of future engineering faculty from underrepresented groups and has resulted in a significantly increased pipeline of diverse alumni and engineering programme participants.

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2015 Finalist - Martin Baumann, Assistant Professor, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

Martin has been selected for his work on enabling students with disabilities and diverse learners to be assessed on an equal basis with all students. He has developed a range of tools to assist students and support teachers, and also works directly with students concerned to create the interfaces and devices required to meet their needs. More than 30,000 students have been able to take adapted e-assessments since 2004.

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2014 Finalist Bevlee Watford: Associate Dean, Academic Affairs/Director, CEED, Virginia Tech, USA

Bevlee was selected for her wide-ranging programmes aimed at building an inclusive and diverse engineering student body at Virginia Tech, and now used as a model for institutions throughout the USA. Over 10,000 engineering students, many of them from underrepresented groups have been supported and mentored through the Programme since its inception in 1992.

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2014 Finalist - Bryan Hill: Assistant Dean, University of Arkansas College of Engineering, USA

Bryan was chosen as a finalist for his work leading initiatives to recruit and retain underrepresented engineering students through the Engineering Career Awareness Programme (ECAP) at the University of Arkansas (U of A). Between 2007-2014, minority enrolment in engineering programmes at U of A increased by more than 190%, with a 150% rise in female undergraduates.

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2013 Finalist - Catherine Pieronek - In Memoriam, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of Women’s Engineering Programme, University of Notre Dame, USA

In response to alarming data about why women were leaving engineering undergraduate courses, Catherine initiated the important changes to enable the programme to be as accessible as possible to women and the broadest possible range of candidates and students.

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2013 Finalist - Maria Angeles Martin Prats, Associate Professor, University of Seville, Spain

 The main goal of Maria’s initiative was to promote and increase the number of students in engineering, especially women, particularly by create a support network and advice for students and young engineers. As chair of IEEE Women in Engineering, Maria is an advocate for women starting out in their education.

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2016 Finalist – Mary Wells, Chair of the Ontario Network for Women in Engineering (ONWiE) and the Associate Dean, Engineering Outreach at the University of Waterloo, Canada

Professor Mary Wells has led a series of ONWiE initiatives to uncover the causes of the continued lack of participation of women in engineering, and developed programmes to address these barriers. ONWiE activities range from work with primary and secondary level girls to programmes for current engineering   students. The initiative has boosted female application and entry rates to Ontario engineering programmes by over 200%.

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2017 Finalist Project - UNSW Women in Engineering (WIE) Programme

University of NSW, Australia

The Women in Engineering (WIE) Programme aims to break down barriers and raise awareness of Engineering opportunities for women; improving recruitment and retention of female engineers through outreach, scholarships and opportunities at all academic levels, from school student to professional engineers. The programme delivers a comprehensive range of workshops and activities targeted at changing the image of engineering among female students, parents, employers, and teachers. Also focussed at raising awareness amongst industry, and helping companies achieve their diversity goals and transformations. Alumni and industry partners are engaged as speakers, mentors and sponsors. The project’s mission is to address gender imbalance and create a strong community of support and guidance for engineering students at a national level.

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2017 Finalist Project - The Schulich School of Engineering: Discover Engineering Programme

The Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada

Discover Engineering is a teaching initiative used to introduce secondary level students to engineering. 25 trained student facilitators, primarily from underrepresented groups themselves, lead engineering career workshops for Grade 11 and 12 students. The programme goal is to increase the diversity of future University of Calgary students; helping students to develop a deeper understanding of engineering, introducing them to the wide range of career paths, and demonstrating how engineers solve problems in society. Additionally, Discover Engineering serves as a teacher learning opportunity, so that educators can provide students with informed career advice and incorporate engineering topics into the classroom.

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Watch the Airbus GEDC Diversity Award Highlights

Martin Baumann GEDC Airbus Diversity Award 2015 Finalist      
Renetta Tull GEDC Airbus Diversity Award 2015 Finalist      
Diversity Award 2014      
Airbus Group Diversity What Does An Engineer Do      
Fadi Aloul GEDC Airbus Diversity Award 2015 Finalist      
Airbus GEDC Award 2017      


The Airbus GEDC Diversity Award in the media

Morgan’s Yacob Astatke Recognized for International Achievements in Engineering Education

Congratulations to Morgan State University’s Yacob Astatke, D.Eng., for being selected as the 2016 Airbus GEDC Diversity Award recipient by aeronautics firm Airbus Group and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC). Dr. Astatke, the interim associate dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Clarence Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering, was chosen from among 40 candidates from 17 countries for his work in engineering education and, specifically, his efforts to improve the delivery of engineering education in Africa.

Read the article

Marita Cheng at the world’s first in-flight Tech Talk

Marita Cheng, 2014 Award Recipient spoke at the world’s first in-flight Tech Talk, from Sydney to San Francisco. Marita is the founder of Robogals Global, which inspires girls aged 10-14 to choose engineering and technical careers.

Read the article and Watch the video

Renetta Tull at the Third International Conference on Transformations in Engineering Education, India

Renetta Tull, 2015 shortlist candidate took the stage for GEDC and Airbus in India, focusing on diversity in engineering at the Third International Conference on Transformations in Engineering Education, January 2016 in Pune, India. 

Read the article

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion

The diversity of our talent drives innovation, while inclusion is how we make sure everyone is a full-fledged member of team.

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