As a field, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) suffers from a lack of diversity in the participation of women and underrepresented minorities (URM) at the undergraduate, graduate, and professorial levels. This project aims to capitalize on a unique opportunity to bring ECE department heads together with women and underrepresented minority (W-URM) graduate students to help diversify the ECE faculty. The project team, including ECE department heads and the ECE Department Heads Association (ECEDHA) leaders, proposes iREDEFINE, an Annual Workshop focused on increasing the numbers of W-URM holding tenure track faculty or postdoc positions in ECE in the US. iREDEFINE capitalizes on the unique environment provided by the ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo to create a mechanism to motivate and prepare graduate W-URM students for pursuing faculty positions in US universities. The unique opportunity arises due to the high concentration of ECE department chairs attending the event, most of whom are invested in increasing the diversity of their faculty. The two day Workshop will overlap with the ECEDHA Conference. The first day will be devoted to providing a glimpse of the life and career of an ECE faculty, information on different types of schools, tips on how to prepare for a successful academic position interview, information on effective instructional techniques, information on seeking research funding, how to build connections with industry, and how to build confidence and negotiating skills. The second day will coincide with the first day of the ECEDHA conference and all iREDEFINE attendees will have access to all conference sessions. This day will provide an immersive experience on the issues that are on the minds of ECE faculty, such as the latest technology and research trends, the latest teaching innovations, and efforts to find solutions to key problems, such as lack of diversity and shifting enrollment trends. The iREDEFINE attendees will present posters on their work to the ECE department chairs, which will give them the opportunity to closely interact with the very people they will be contacting during their job search and also practice some of the skills that they learned the day before. The poster session will feed into a reception for Workshop attendees, ECE chairs and industry affiliates, which will offer further networking opportunities. In addition to the Workshop, a mentoring program will be established to extend beyond the workshop. The project will be evaluated and fine-tuned after the first offering to maximize its impact.This effort will have a significant impact on the field of ECE and as a result the future of technology. Diversifying the faculty will help enhance the diversity of the student population in ECE by providing role models, and thus diversify the ECE workforce. As ECE is a major enabler in technological discovery, a more diverse practitioner/educator pool will lead to new perspectives on technological innovation and how that serves society. The proposed project will serve as a potential model for improving diversity in STEM disciplines in general.
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