Engineering Diversity Office gets a new name

Name change aims to increase inclusion and engagement across the college and the University

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Office of Engineering Diversity in the College of Engineering at Penn State is changing its name to the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion as of January 2016.

The renaming of the office to a center reflects recent trends, which include serving more students and incorporating a broader variety of programs.

Amy Freeman, assistant dean of engineering diversity in the College of Engineering, explained, "At its inception in the late 1980's, the Office of Engineering Diversity traditionally served limited populations of racially underrepresented students and women in engineering. The Multicultural Engineering Program and the Women in Engineering Program were established to serve those students."

However, she noted, over the past 11 years, the total numbers of undergraduate and graduate students served by the office has increased from 1,800 to about 2,700.

Over that same time frame, said Freeman, the national definitions of "diversity" and "marginalized groups" in university settings have expanded to include students in lower socio-economic groups and first-generation college students.

In order to address the needs of these additional populations, the office has implemented many new programs in recent years, including Collaborative Experiences for Undergraduates (CEU), Business Experience for Undergraduates (BEU) and a Multi-campus Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

The office also announced in August that it received a five-year, $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant for programs designed to increase the retention rate of racially underrepresented and first-generation engineering students at four Penn State campuses.

Currently, the office is reorganizing and expanding its staff to accommodate the additional programs and better serve the students who participate in them.

This expansion includes two new units: Student Research and Engagement and Campus Outreach Programs in Engineering. The former will oversee the CEU, BEU and REU programs and focus on ensuring that all students in the college have access to these opportunities. The latter will provide services to students at Penn State's non-University Park campuses.

Freeman said the primary goal of her office is to ensure that every student working toward an engineering degree at Penn State can access the resources they need to have a successful academic experience. "This name change will result in a more approachable and far reaching brand for the College of Engineering's message of inclusion that is recognizable across the college and the University."

Last Updated November 30, 2015