NAE Committee Chooses Exemplar Programs that are Increasing Diversity in Engineering at U.S. Colleges and Universities


Tue, March 10, 2020

Washington DC, March 10, 2020 —

Diversifying the US engineering workforce requires action and interventions throughout the engineering education and workforce system, especially at important transition points such as university admissions. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is engaging the engineering education and research community in a collaborative process to highlight and encourage the diffusion of effective admissions practices that improve diversity in engineering education. The NAE received 25 nominations for exemplary programs from accredited four-year undergraduate schools with engineering or engineering technology programs. The submissions were reviewed by an NAE-appointed committee and judged based on improvements in enrollment diversity, creative and research-based features of the program, and measures of success. From the 25 submissions, eight institutions are being recognized for effectively diversifying engineering education using admissions policies, practices, and processes.

The programs chosen as exemplary made policy changes, implemented new criteria or requirements for admissions, changed processes, or developed effective practices. The following institutions were chosen:

  • California State University Long Beach
  • Iowa State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Washington

“Diversifying the engineering workforce is critical to US competitiveness, and admission to an undergraduate engineering program is one significant transition point for all potential engineers. Unfortunately, traditional admissions criteria and practices have contributed to engineering’s lack of diversity and it is not clear that the criteria we are using are the best predictors of success in engineering studies or work,” said Darryll Pines, chair of the committee,  Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and incoming president of the University of Maryland. “These institutions have developed practices and policies that help to even the playing field for all potential engineers.”

As a follow-up activity, the NAE will host a workshop in June 2020 to facilitate the sharing of information and expertise from these institutions and promote collaboration to help attendees advance their efforts and develop effective plans for their own institutions. Ultimately, the project will improve the way engineering schools evaluate the potential success of and accept applicants from all backgrounds and will disseminate best practices to support institutions as they diversify their engineering programs, which will benefit current and future engineers as well as the broader workforce.

The project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.


The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

Randy  Atkins
Contact Randy Atkins
Director of Communications/Media Relations
National Academy of Engineering
education diversity