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09 October 2014
09. October 2014 Commercial Aircraft

Global Airbus and GEDC award applauds initiatives that bring diversity to engineering

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Three finalists selected including a candidate from Australia and two from the US.

Airbus, the leading aircraft manufacturer, and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC), the leading international organisation for engineering education, have selected the three shortlisted candidates for the 2014 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award. The three 2014 finalists are from Australia and USA and were selected from over 20 candidates from 12 countries.
This prestigious award is given to individuals who have been proactive in bringing more diversity* into engineering schools and universities. It rewards initiatives around the world which encourage young people of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering. The long-term aim of the award is to increase diversity among the global community of engineers so that the engineering industry reflects the diversity of the communities it supports.
The finalists will present their ideas to a jury led by Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering. The selection criteria will focus on the measureable success of the initiative, the transferability of the idea and the potential to inspire other diversity initiatives.
“At Airbus we are convinced that diversity is key a driver of innovation and high performance,” said Charles Champion. “More diverse teams, means more inclusive teams, where everyone’s ideas count. This is the kind of culture we foster at Airbus and I congratulate the 2014 finalists whose results also demonstrate what can be achieved with commitment and ambition.”
“This year, we have been particularly impressed by the number of ‘contagious’ initiatives – those that have the potential to be replicated in other universities globally,” explained John Beynon, Dean of Engineering, University of Adelaide, Australia and Chair of the GEDC. “We want to inspire engineering leaders from around the world to join our drive to create a more diverse global community of engineers.”
The winner of the 2014 Award will be announced at the World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF) in Dubai on 3rd December 2014 attended by leading deans and industry representatives from around the world. An amount of 10 000 USD will go to the award recipient to support and develop their work in this field.
In October 2013 the inaugural Diversity Award went to Ana Lazarin from Wichita State University (WSU), USA, for her outreach, recruitment and retention programs which have increased the number of under-represented minority students in the College of Engineering at WSU by 91% over the last 5 years.
More information is available at :
Notes to editor
*Diversity definition : Diversity is the inclusion of individuals that represent variations in gender, 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. (Source American Society of Engineering Education and Airbus)
The 2014 finalists are:
Marita Cheng: Founder, Robogals Global, Australia
Marita Cheng 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 program of workshops, training, student challenges, a Robogal Ambassador program and a dedicated outreach program 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 organization.
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 Program (ECAP) at the University of Arkansas (U of A). Between 2007-2014, minority enrollment in engineering programs at U of A increased by more than 190%, with a 150 % rise in female undergraduates.
The program offers a full range of academic, financial and social support to remove the barriers that underrepresented students face in completing an engineering degree. ECAP also has partnerships with feeder institutions targeting diverse transfer students. As program director, Bryan has been instrumental in not only developing ECAP but also in creating significant funding streams and industry partnerships.
Bevlee Watford: Associate Dean, Academic Affairs/Director, CEED, Virginia Tech, USA
Bevlee was selected for her wide-ranging programs 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 CEED since its inception in 1992.
There is a wide selection of programs and activities made available through the centre, including peer mentoring, living-learning communities and summer bridge programs.
The programs are designed to support undergraduate students, as well as pre-college students at local schools. The work of the CEED is the acknowledged driving force behind Virginia Tech’s steadily rising engineering student enrollment and retention rates, particularly among minority groups.
About the GEDC

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