Diversity in Engineering
Achieving it within our faculty, staff, and student body is one of Purdue Engineering's foremost initiatives. We want the College of Engineering to be a place where everyone has the opportunity to excel and where everyone's contributions and perspectives are respected and valued. And, where barriers to respect and collaboration are eliminated. It certainly makes for a more just world, and it also spurs the creativity that we engineers must have in order to do our work well.
Recruiting Domestic, Women, and Minority PhD Students
Currently, more than half of Purdue Engineering’s PhD students are international, and as graduate education and career opportunities in other countries improve, the number of international students willing to come to the U.S. for an education and stay for a career will decrease. Our strategic plan calls for an increase in the number of domestic PhD students. The need for domestic PhD engineers is especially critical at national laboratories and in government agencies devoted to defense and security.
We would also like to increase the number of women and minority students—a largely untapped pool of domestic talent. Employers who hire our students are seeking to diversify their workforce and have a strong preference for hiring from institutions that can provide that diversity.
Doctoral students become leaders in academia, industrial research programs, and in formulating national policy. To remain competitive, the U.S. needs a continuous stream of leading thinkers. To maintain its influence and reputation, Purdue needs to produce a significant number of those leaders. That is why we will recruit the best and brightest for our PhD programs, with an emphasis on recruiting domestic, women, and minority students.
Possible future components of the recruiting effort include:
- Collaboration among the many Purdue programs that involve undergraduates in research on campus during the summer, such as SURF, MARC-AIM, and programs managed by the Minority Engineering Program, the Women in Engineering Program, and the Graduate School.
- Identifying potential graduate students around the nation early in their undergraduate careers and making them aware of opportunities at Purdue.
- Developing connections with potential graduate students through current faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
- Identifying pools of non-traditional students who are, or could soon be, prepared for graduate work in engineering, such as strong math and science students at liberal arts schools.
- Emphasizing that Purdue provides not only an opportunity for an outstanding technical education, but also opportunities for personal and professional development that prepare a person for leadership positions in academia, industry, or government.
Connections, interactions, and global networking are words used constantly in academia and industry. Their relevance is impressed upon us every day when we look upon the faces of the engineering graduate students coming in from so many countries to connect and interact with other students and faculty at Purdue.
The Women in Engineering Program's (WIEP) Graduate Mentoring Program (GMP) is just one of the resources that help to establish these critical connections for underrepresented engineering students. WIEP has been actively recruiting and retaining undergraduate students at Purdue for 36 years. However, the GMP has been in existence only since 1994, when it began with 50 participants. Over the last three years, participation has increased to close to 100 students.
Although the GMP continues to reach as many of the 396 female graduate students in engineering as possible, the program is not just about the numbers. Given their strenuous curriculum and busy lives, perhaps 40 of these 396 students come to any given GMP meeting, but all students are drawn into meaningful mentoring relationships and given multiple resources for their academic, personal, and professional development.
The focus is on providing useful information and a supportive environment that results in a less stressful, more productive, and more confident approach to graduate studies. Programs like the Graduate Mentoring Program help to retain women students and to change attitudes held by these students, their peers, and their professors.