Minority Engineering Program Staff 


Virginia Booth-Womack (vboothgl@purdue.edu)

Director, Minority Engineering Program

Virginia Lynn Booth-Womack is from Indianapolis, Indiana. The first in a family of 5 to attend college, Virginia received a four year scholarship to Purdue University from Father Boniface Hardin, President of what was then known as Martin Center College in Indianapolis, Indiana. Martin Center College is now known as Martin University. She is a Purdue University graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. While at Purdue, Virginia was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and actively involved with Purdue’s Minority Engineering Programs, She was mentored by the (former) President of Purdue University, Dr. Arthur Hansen, and challenged to run for National Chair of NSBE with a commitment from President Hansen and Purdue University to help support the foundation of the national body.

After being elected, Purdue University provided an office for the first National Headquarters. Virginia was invited to speak at the National Advisory Council for Minorities in Engineering consortium in Washington D.C. In attendance were Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers and University Presidents from top academic institutions who gathered together to determine how to increase the number of under-represented minorities in the fields of engineering and science. Her open, candid and personal discussion of the needs of African American students pursuing engineering and science and the personal responsibility such students embraced by forming the National Society of Black Engineers, launched national support for NSBE from both corporate and university leaders.  As the first female National Chair and the first to serve two consecutive terms of office, over 50 universities received their official 'charter chapter' status during her two terms of office.

While still a student, Virginia worked under Marion Williamson-Blalock and assisted in developing many of the activities that are still vital elements of the Minority Engineering Programs at Purdue University. She served as Assistant to the Director of MEP during the inception of the MEP Freshman Orientation Seminar (Engineering 180) and the formation of other minority organizations now well established at Purdue.

Virginia has worked for Proctor & Gamble, Eli Lilly Corporation, RCA, General Dynamics, and served as School Administrator for Bibleway Christian Academy (Toledo, Ohio) serving grades Preschool through 12. Before coming to Purdue, she worked at DaimlerChrysler Corporation where she spent 10 years and served as Lean Manufacturing Manager for the Powertrain Division. She was responsible for 100% implementation of training and integration of lean manufacturing principles.

As Minority Engineering Programs Director, Virginia has worked to continue the legacy established at Purdue through the tireless efforts of Ms. Blalock and others in the effort to increase the number of engineering graduates from Purdue University among those who traditionally have been under-represented in the fields of engineering and science. Virginia recently served as Interim Executive Director for the National Society of Black Engineersis. The dean of the College of Engineering allowed Virginia to be on loan to the National Society of Black Engineers as their Interim Executive Director while they conducted a search, secured, and transitioned a new Executive Director. During this period, Virginia successfully managed a 14 Million dollar operation with approximately 30 employees through a very difficult transition. She oversaw and maintained organizational viability, increased corporate sponsorship, program outreach, and professional development.

Darryl Dickerson (ddickers@purdue.edu)

Associate Director, Minority Engineering Program

Dr. Darryl Dickerson, Ph.D.  began working full time for MEP since 2012. In 2014 he became Associate Director of MEP to bring research focus on diversity program geared towards increasing the number of underrepresented minorities matriculating in engineering.  Dr. Dickerson also serves as Chief Scientific Officer of BioRegeneration Technologies, and President of Adapt-IF Technologies.  Dr. Dickerson has extensive research experience in biomaterials development, orthopaedic tissue biomechanics, and tissue engineering.  He graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, with a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering.  He continued his education at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. 

Research for his doctoral dissertation “Bio-template Mediated Regeneration of Orthopaedic Interfaces” was carried out in the Human Injury and Regenerative Research Technologies laboratory under the direction of Dr. Eric Nauman.  Subsequently, he and Dr. Eric Nauman founded BioRegeneration Technologies to translate the benchtop work performed during his graduate studies to clinical practice. 

During his time as a graduate student, Dr. Dickerson gained significant management experience as a member of the Board of Directors (2004 – 2009) of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a nonprofit organization with over 30,000 members worldwide dedicated to increasing the number of blacks pursuing and obtaining engineering degrees.  His work with NSBE culminated in his service as President, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer in 2007 – 2008. 

During his tenure, he honed his management and leadership skills overseeing a full-time staff of 30 at the World Headquarters in Alexandria, VA; managing a budget of $11 million; implementing a new programmatically-based strategic direction; and forging new partnerships with corporations including Battelle and Microsoft.  Dr. Dickerson received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in May 2009.  In 2011, he became President of Adapt-IF Technologies, a non-profit organization founded by Theresa Gordon and Eric Nauman dedicated to creating and delivering custom adaptive technologies to meet the individual needs of people with disabilities. In 2012, he joined the staff of the Minority Engineering Program here at Purdue.

Cinthia Sanchez (sanchezh@purdue.edu)

Outreach and Retention Administrator

Cinthia E. Sanchez, Ph.D. began working full time for Minority Engineering Programs as the Outreach and Retention Administrator after earning her Ph.D. degree in Biological Sciences from Purdue University in 2014.

Dr. Sanchez has extensive research experience in the areas of molecular virology and cell biology.  Her doctorate thesis project “ Genetic variations of dengue virus and its role in viral replication and infectivity” has been presented at various national conferences.

During her tenure at Purdue, she also worked as the Lead Coordinator for the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) where she developed, coordinated and engaged in activities that focus on outreach, recruitment and retention of pre-college and undergraduate underrepresented students. She also successfully build partnerships with internal faculty, staff, and administrators, as well as other academic institutions nationwide and played instrumental role in doubling number of applicants to over 1,000 students by co-creating marketing strategy, forming partnerships with and visiting other institutions, and representing program at conferences. 

Dr. Sanchez also has more than six years of teaching experience at Purdue University, teaching courses such as Lab View, Exploration of Protein Structure and Macromolecules and Anatomy and Physiology. She also served and continues to mentor underrepresented students from Purdue University and Puerto Rico. In her current capacity as the Outreach and Retention Administrator for the MEP, Dr. Sanchez is responsible for designing, implementing and coordinating outreach and retention programing specifically targeted to underrepresented minority pre-college and undergraduate students, parents, and educators. She also is responsible of developing intervention strategies for academic improvement and success. Cinthia was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received her B.S. degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla. 


Carol Stwalley (cgss@purdue.edu)

Outreach and Recruitment Analyst

Carol Stwalley, Ph.D. PE joined the MEP team in the fall of 2007 part time to develop a comprehensive database to evaluate MEP signature programs as well as establish trend lines in outreach, recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation rates for underrepresented students compared to the overall College of Engineering cohort. After several years of service in this ares, Dr. Stwalley's began working half time for MEP and half time for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the summer of 2012 under the leadership of Dr. Christine Taylor.  During the summer of 2014 her work was expanded to the Office of Institutional Assessment, where she continues her analysis for the entire university. Her latest work includes a MEP team effort to look at a five year study of the Academic Boot Camps for Engineering, Science, and Technology. This research has culminated in the paper, “A Description of the Statistics Behind Analyzing Performance Data:  A Five-Year Study of a Summer Bridge Program for Incoming Underrepresented Minority Freshman”, for the American Society of Engineering Education’s summer 2015 conference.

With a Bachelor of Science, Master’s and Doctorate in Agriculture and Biological Engineering from Purdue University and her experience with the Women in Engineering Programs at Purdue, Dr. Stwalley has the proper tools to navigate and contextualize dense data related to historically underrepresented groups for the various colleges of Purdue University.


Heather Coar (hcoar@purdue.edu)

Assistant Director of Communications for the Minority Engineering Program, Women in Engineering Program, and Office of Future Engineers

Heather Coar, M.S. splits her full time assignment across three areas: The Office of Future Engineers, Women in Engineering Program, and Minority Engineering Program, for the College of Engineering at Purdue University. She joined all three teams in March of 2014. Prior to that she was the Communications Specialist for the School of Mechanical Engineering. A proud Boilermaker since January 2012, Heather’s other passion is teaching with the Brian Lamb School of Communication. She has taught COM 495, Special Topics in Public Relations, and currently teaches, COM 353, Problems in Public Relations- a course that allows students to plan public relations campaigns for the non-profit organizations in the Lafayette community under her direction.

Heather came to Purdue from Grand Valley State University (GVSU), in Allendale, Michigan, where she served as the marketing manger for Housing and Residence Life and Health Services. Prior to working as a marketing manger for GVSU, Heather lived overseas in Göteborg, Sweden, where she was the public project director of the Sweden Research Team. She designed a custom research trip for GVSU’s School of Communications and lived abroad to conduct and manage research in Sweden with a focus on intercultural communication. Her work was done in collaboration with GVSU and Göteborgs Universitet in Göteborg, Sverige (University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden). The research she conducted in Sweden concluded with the publication of her Master-level thesis comparing intercultural communication between Swedish and American cultures.

Heather received her B.A. in Advertising, Public Relations, and Graphic Design, from Grand Valley State University in 2006, and her M.S. in Communications from Grand Valley in 2009. She intends to pursue her Ph.D. in Public Relations at Purdue University.

She is a Southwest Michigan native, enjoys spending time at Lake Michigan during the summer with friends and family, traveling, attending concerts with friends, and anything Swedish….can be found wondering IKEA (for hours!) to satisfy her basic need of staying connected to her roots.


Marion W. Blalock, a living legacy

Ms. Marion Williamson Blalock retired as MEP Director in August of 2008 after serving over 34 years. Marion’s contributions to the Purdue College of Engineering span three decades and have had a monumental impact on national and local educational programs. She transformed  Purdue's Minority Engineering Program into a national model that has been replicated at major universities throughout the nation.  She has mentored thousands of minority students here at Purdue and across the country, and has helped over 2,300 underrepresented, students of color graduate with their engineering degrees. Many of her students have gone on to stellar careers in engineering, education, and business.

Ms. Blalock is a graduate of Purdue University, earning her BS in Sociology and MS in Counseling and Personnel Services.  Prior to her appointment as MEP director, she served as Assistant Dean of Students here at Purdue.