NAE President’s Racial Justice and Equity Committee

At-a-Glance
The Racial Justice and Equity (RJ&E) Committee, a presidential advisory committee created in 2020 by NAE president John L. Anderson, aims to support the NAE mission “to advance the welfare and prosperity of the nation” by addressing diversity in the NAE, the engineering profession, and the nation.

The NAE strives to promote diverse perspectives and research in order to provide better-informed advice to the government and engineering community. To that end, the NAE is working to lead a cultural shift to help meet future workforce needs and design systems that benefit all segments of society. Our work involves collaborating with initiatives to address diversity in the engineering profession. Our goal is to contribute to the growth of equitable practices, improve access to engineering and elevate its value to society.

“Neither the NAE nor any other organization can solve all the societal problems associated with racism, prejudice, and discrimination, but it is our responsibility to do our best in recommending solutions based on scientific evidence and engineering methods,” said Dr. Anderson.

“Current events underscore how critical it is for us to redouble our efforts to include the perspectives of everyone as we build the future world that we want, one in which we are all valued equally. Engineers serve society, and to be effective engineers must be aware of societal problems in all dimensions.”

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Activities and Initiatives

Awareness in the Engineering Community


NAE president John Anderson created an opportunity to address racial justice and equity at the 2020 NAE annual meeting. NAE member John Slaughter, professor in the Rossier School of Education and Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, presented the inaugural Special Lecture on Engineering and Society, “A Call to Action for Racial Justice and Equity in Engineering.”

“[A] cultural transformation must take place within the engineering profession, including the NAE, if we are to provide a meaningful and sustainable contribution to the efforts to quell systemic and structural racism in engineering and in society.” John Brooks Slaughter


NAE Diversity

The RJ&E Committee has worked diligently to increase the number of self-identified underrepresented minority members (URM) of the NAE by (1) identifying current URM membersURMNAE_smaller.jpg and (2) supporting the nomination of many more qualified minority members. In two years, the number of self-identified minority members has doubled. In addition, Dr. Anderson and the RJ&E Committee have encouraged minority members to run for NAE offices and many have been successful, including the newly appointed NAE vice president. NAE is more diverse than it was two years ago, but more needs to be done.

To encourage participation from the NAE’s URM members, as well as other members who are interested in diversity, the RJ&E Committee has established a member-led activity called URM of the NAE that will convene for the first time during the 2022 annual meeting.

Workshops and Studies

With the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the RJ&E committee provided impetus for a workshop, “Connecting Efforts to Support Minorities in Engineering Education,” held virtually in spring 2022.

Also with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the committee is conducting a planning study to look at future activities; one possibility is a webinar.

Collaborations

RJ&E collaborated with the 50K Coalition of student-run URM and women’s organizations to organize a workshop on engineering and community colleges in May 2021. RJ&E provided sponsorship as well as several of the keynote speakers.

The creation of three regional hubs will provide Community College-to-Engineering Pathways for Underrepresented Students. The first hub will be in the DC-MD-VA area, the second in the Chicago area, and the location of the third is TBD. (link the report we got from 50K)

The RJ&E committee is working with the University of Maryland at College Park on an initiative to follow up on suggestions made during the workshop of the Workshop on Connecting Minority Engineering Efforts.

Contact: K. Briggs

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