Our programming includes peer mentoring, seminars, workshops, tutoring, inclusive curriculum advocacy, professional and personal development opportunities, scholarship opportunities, community college partnerships, K-12 outreach, community building events, and more. A list of our current initiatives is provided below.
In fall of 2022, DEI reinvigorated our Engineering Connect RAPs and nearly 200 first year students accepted our invitation to live in these living-learning communities. RAPs provide an opportunity for students who are entering declared in a COE major to live together and take their collegiate First-Year Seminar with students in the same living community. We have built individual RAPs to be communities that are more supportive of women, students of color, and LGBTQIA+ students.
The Revolutionary, Inclusive, Sustainable Engineering (RISE) Scholar’s Program is a new initiative launched in fall 2022. Participation in RISE offers students a variety of unique academic and social opportunities, including arranged meetings with faculty, current students, and alumni mentors, as well as workshops, lectures, and symposiums.
As part of the RISE community, students have priority access to living in one of our Engineering Connect RAPs, as well as specialized group study and tutoring support, social events, and the opportunity to participate in a free early arrival campus program. A large, research-oriented university such as UMass offers incredible advantages and opportunities to engineering students, but the size of the institution also means that coming here from high school can be overwhelming. Involvement in programs such as RISE helps new students adjust to college life.
Dean's Advisory Groups provide a platform for members of the college community to interact directly with Dean Sanjay Raman. Advisory group members are expected to provide thoughtful input on college climate, direction, needs and other topics as requested. Six groups have been established: staff, undergraduate students, master’s students, PhD students, tenured faculty. untenured faculty/research faculty/post-docs.
Dean’s First Year Fellows
In 2022, the DEI initiated a new scholarship program for first year, first time students called the Dean’s First Year Fellows program. Dean’s fellows receive a scholarship of $1k and are encouraged to participate in RISE. We connect with these students throughout the year to ensure that they have the support needed to thrive in the College of Engineering. Priority selection goes to first generation, high need, and students traditionally underrepresented in engineering.
Dean’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Curriculum Challenge
In 2020, the DEI launched the Dean’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Curriculum Challenge. The initiative is intended to encourage faculty members to incorporate themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion into their courses, so that students can develop a nuanced understanding of both the social and the technical aspects of engineering. The three themes we are currently encouraging faculty to incorporate are Racial Justice in Engineering, Inclusive Design in Engineering, and Equitable Sustainability.
Given that one goal of the DEI is to increase the enrollment, retention, and graduation among under-represented students in engineering, we place an emphasis on building the pipeline of K-12 students interested in pursuing engineering degrees.
Throughout the year the DEI offers events to encourage K-12 students to consider degrees in STEM. These include Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day, Girl Scout Days, Engineering the Cell, Massenberg Summer STEM Institute, and Summer ENGineering Institute (SENGI). The DEI also cultivates strong relationships with three nearby high needs districts—Springfield, Holyoke, and Greenfield—as well as with the Amherst Regional Public Schools. This includes partnerships with the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club, Springfield Boys & Girls Club, Girls Inc. of the Valley, Amherst Regional Middle School, Easthampton Middle School, Makers at Amherst Media, and the Mass 4H Youth Development Program.
DEI Neurodiversity Initiative
The goal of our Neurodiversity Initiative is to provide comprehensive support to UMass students with a broad range of disabilities, including those with autism, ADHD, LD, and anxiety. Our focus is on providing opportunities, building upon student strengths, and reinforcing their path to academic, professional, and personal success.
As part of this initiative, a Neurodiversity Working Group brings leaders from across campus together regularly to discuss needs, share ideas, and implement programs to forward this mission; the Engineering Career and Experiential Learning Center provides links to webinars and other resources to help students decide when and if they wish to disclose, better prepare for interviews, and other professional development resources; and the Engineering Career and Experiential Learning Center also connects students to several virtual and face-to-face job fairs specifically aimed at recruiting neurodiverse students.
Allies for Equity Initiative
The Allies for Equity Initiative, formally launched in spring 2020, focuses on creating and nurturing an equitable and inclusive climate for underrepresented individuals in the College of Engineering. The group provides an opportunity for members to discuss forms of implicit and explicit harassment and discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, age, disability, and nationality, among others. Allies for Equity also discuss what it means to be an effective ally, in part by identifying tools for intervention in order to foster a supportive environment that enables all students, staff, and faculty to succeed.
Transfer student support
Each year, 70 to 100 students transfer into the College of Engineering. On average, half of these students have earned their associate’s degree at a community college and are continuing on at UMass to earn a B.S. in engineering in one of our seven majors. The majority of our community college transfer students come from Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, and Springfield Technical Community College. Among other programming, the DEI hosts meet and greet opportunities for transfer students to meet faculty, staff, and students in a welcoming, informal setting. For the last three years the Massachusetts Department of Education has supported a summer bridge program for students transferring in to take their junior year writing course at UMass for free. This is paired with a professional development series to help connect transfer students to people and resources at UMass before the fall semester. The college also offers a one credit seminar course for transfer students to further support their success.
The Assistant Dean for Diversity serves as the faculty advisor for the six student diversity organizations within the College of Engineering—the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), “Out” in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM), the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME)—in addition to Engineers without Borders (EWB) and Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honors society.
The CEI Hub serves as the meeting space for these student organizations, and the DEI further facilitates their success by providing financial and logistical support to students seeking to travel to their organization’s regional and national conferences. The Assistant Dean for Diversity also provides oversight for the Joint Student Engineering Society (JSES) council, which consists of the leadership of approximately 30 student engineering organizations.
Personal and professional development
Personal and professional development programming is closely coordinated with our core engineering student groups (SWE, NSBE, SHPE, oSTEM, SAME, SASE) to support the growth of our students. While specific activities vary from year to year, they generally include: networking and mentorship opportunities through sponsored events that bring alumni and industry partners to campus; workshops on topics such as mental health, stress management, and resiliency; opportunities to give back to the community, such as by participating in outreach to regional K-12 school; and opportunities to mentor incoming freshman and transfer students. In addition, we support workshops provided by colleagues including mock interviews, resume building workshops, leadership training, and advice on financial planning.