Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Welcome from the Associate Dean of Diversity

Sylvanus WosuIt is my pleasure to welcome you to the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) Office of Diversity. SSOE diversity refers to the integrated differences and similarities that all individuals and programs contribute in the academic mission of the school. The mission of the Engineering Office of Diversity (EOD) is to create and sustain learning and working environments where those differences and similarities are valued and respected, and all students, especially women and underrepresented students are included and empowered to excel in engineering education. EOD provides continuous academic and community support services through four program areas: the Pitt Engineering Career Access Program (PECAP) pre-college INVESTING NOW and college Pitt EXCEL Programs, Diversity Graduate Engineering Program (DGEP), and Diversity Education Program (DEP).

Sylvanus N. Wosu, PhD

Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs


MEMS alumna recognized by Society of Women Engineers for impact on space exploration

MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (December 20, 2017) ... Alumna Theresa (Terri) Taylor was recognized by the Society of Women Engineers this fall with the Resnik Challenger Medal for "For advances in spacecraft momentum control systems; for setting high standards for critical parts and systems; and for establishing a world-class testing lab for bearings used in spacecraft." Ms. Taylor, senior engineering manager for Honeywell Aerospace, earned here bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering in 1982. Established in 1986 to honor SWE’s Dr. Judith A. Resnik, NASA Mission Specialist on the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle flight on January 28, 1986. It is awarded only as merited for visionary contributions to space exploration to individuals with at least ten (10) years of service. This award acknowledges a specific engineering breakthrough or achievement that has expanded the horizons of space exploration. The Resnik Challenger Medal is not presented annually, and was last awarded in 2013. According to an announcement from Honeywell, "This award acknowledges Taylor's achievement of expanding space exploration through her invention of the application of spin-bearing technology for attitude control systems that steer, stabilize and point a spacecraft. Her contributions to the technology over the past 27 years have provided reliable, longer-life spacecraft. From the Space Station to imagery satellite to weather satellites, along with undisclosed missions of national importance, Taylor's impact cannot be overstated. Her passion has helped shape the way space is explored, and Taylor is just as passionate about helping to encourage and mentor young female engineers." The Resnick Challenger Medal was presented as part SWE's annual award program which recognizes innovators and leaders who are supporting the enrichment and advancement of women in the engineering community from industry to education. SWE award recipients include professionals and collegiates from influential businesses, corporations and universities across the globe. “The men and women recognized this year have made significant contributions to the engineering community,” said Jonna Gerken, president of SWE. “They are leaders, inspiring the current and future generation of STEM professionals, and paving the way to empowerment for women engineers everywhere.” This year’s award recipients were recognized at WE17, the world’s largest conference and career fair for women engineers, Oct. 26-28, 2017 in Austin, Texas. The conference gathers over 11,000 professional and collegiate men and women for professional development, education and networking. ###


Five-School Collaboration at the University of Pittsburgh Earns NSF Grant to Promote Inclusion in STEM Fields


PITTSBURGH (November 29, 2017) … The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $300,000 to a University of Pittsburgh team in one of the foundation’s Ten Big ideas for Future Investments programs, “Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES).” The team’s two-year pilot project, “Diversifying Access to Urban Universities for Students in STEM Fields,” is a credentialing and badging system for pre-college science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs with the ultimate goal of increasing participation of underserved and underrepresented minority students in postsecondary STEM programs, leading to STEM careers. INCLUDES is an agency-wide initiative “aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics discoveries and innovations through a commitment to diversity and inclusion,” according to the NSF website.  The grant period began September 15, 2017 and continues through August 31, 2019. The Pitt collaboration will expand upon a community engagement framework to involve more students in STEM pre-college programs and define how the programs teach students the competencies that promote success in STEM majors. This will inform the credentialing of pre-college programs and, in coordination with University admissions professionals, develop a badging system that holistically reviews student applicants. Image (from left to right): Jennifer Iriti, Lori Delale-O'Connor David Boone, Alaine Allen, and Alison Slinskey Legg The collaboration includes the Pitt Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, the Pitt Community Engagement Centers, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Remake Learning, five schools at Pitt, and four campus STEM pre-college programs:• Gene Team in the Department of Biological Sciences;• INVESTING NOW in the Swanson School of Engineering;• The Technology Leadership Initiative in the School of Computing and Information;• The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Academy in the School of Medicine.The four pre-college programs will engage approximately 300 high school students during the pilot round. The two-fold approach of credentialing STEM pre-college programs and badging student participants aims to have an impact on increasing the visibility of underserved and underrepresented minorities for admission considerations at urban research universities. Although Pitt is providing much of the initial effort for this project, the pilot is embedded within the broader Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem and is guided by the Remake Learning Network. Ultimately, the group’s change effort will result in an urban transformation in which previously “siloed” programs and organizations will take collective ownership and action to create stronger pathways for underrepresented minority students to enter STEM undergraduate programs in the region. Faculty and administrators from Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University are included in the development and design efforts of the proposal, and will provide feedback on their precollege and admissions processes, participate on the Advisory Boards, and determine whether the piloted model is feasible for expansion at their home institutions. The pilot will lay the foundation for a future alliance effort in which activities are replicated in other urban areas nationally.The investigators include:• Alison Slinskey Legg (principal investigator), Senior Lecturer and Director of Outreach Programs in the Department of Biological Sciences; • Alaine Allen, Director of INVESTING NOW pre-college diversity program and Pitt EXCEL undergraduate diversity program in the Swanson School of Engineering;• David Boone, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics; • Lori Delale-O’Connor, Assistant Professor of Education in Pitt’s Center for Urban Education;• Jennifer Iriti, Research Scientist in Pitt’s Learning Research & Development Center. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Pitt engineering undergraduate Joanna Rivero receives scholarship from Universities Space Research Association

MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 28, 2017) … Joanna R. Rivero, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was one of six recipients of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) annual USRA Scholarship Award. USRA awards scholarships to undergraduate students who tackle challenging scientific questions in the areas of space research and exploration, particularly astrophysics and astronomy and create technologies and solutions that will positively influence people’s lives. Ms. Rivero, a native of Miami, Fla., received the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship Award which recognizes the former Acting Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and as Deputy Director of the Division of Space Life Sciences and honors his dedication to education and advancements in aerospace technology. She was nominated by Matthew M. Barry, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and was among 112 eligible applicants for this year’s awards. Alyssa A. Brown, a Swanson School senior from Glenn Dale, Md., received an honorable mention as one of 13 finalists. According to URSA, a panel of judges well recognized in their respective fields selects the recipients and the competition represents the rigor expected of a science competition. The selection committee consists of university faculty members in science and engineering disciplines from among the top tier universities. “The URSA is synonymous with NASA and aerospace research, and this is a prestigious scholarship for Joanna as well as a great honor for Alyssa,” noted Peyman Givi, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt. “I’m proud of the students we nominated for this year’s class, and appreciate the support that URSA provides to our undergraduates.” “We at USRA are extremely proud of students who receive these awards,” said Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson, President and Chief Executive Officer, USRA. “They demonstrate great promise in areas such as astrophysics, planetary exploration, data utilization, fluid dynamics and biomechanics. But it’s not just their research that makes them stand out –the award recipients are also selected based on their leadership potential and initiative. We congratulate these talented students and wish them a brilliant future.” About USRA Founded in 1969 under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities, and conducts other major research and educational programs, under Federal funding. USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at www.usra.edu. ###


NAMEPA Recognizes Swanson School’s Commitment to Diversity in Engineering


Blacksburg, Va. (September 22, 2017) … The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) awarded both the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Simeon Saunders and the INVESTING NOW program for outstanding contributions to the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented groups pursuing education in engineering. Saunders received the NAMEPA Wings to Succeed Award, and INVESTING NOW received the NAMEPA Recruitment Award at the 38th Annual NAMEPA National Conference, which took place from Sept. 10 – 13 on the Virginia Tech campus.Simeon M. Saunders is an academic counselor and Coordinator for Diversity Outreach for the Pitt EXCEL Program, which annually provides more than 250 students—particularly historically underrepresented groups in engineering—with academic counseling, peer mentoring, tutoring, engineering research opportunities, graduate school preparation, and career development workshops. NAMEPA grants the Wings to Succeed Award to people who have helped students overcome historic barriers for minority groups or who have met the challenges of their positions and committed extraordinary effort to fulfilling their job responsibilities. The award usually goes to non-traditional diversity roles, such as faculty, corporate representatives, community organizers, and other university administrators.Saunders received his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in higher education management from Pitt. He is currently working toward his doctorate in social and comparative analysis in education. In 2010, Saunders joined the Pitt EXCEL team and created the male mentoring group B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (Brothers Respecting Open Thought Helping Every-Man Realize His Own Original Dream). The group offers opportunities for upperclassmen and alumni to participate in local community service activities, workshops, seminars, social outings, and peer to peer mentoring opportunities.Since 1988, INVESTING NOW has prepared pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups for matriculation at selective colleges and universities, such as the University of Pittsburgh, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors. Approximately 175 students participate annually in INVESTING NOW activities, which include advising sessions, tutoring, hands-on science and engineering workshops, college planning sessions, and career awareness activities. The primary goals are:1. Create a pipeline for well-prepared students to enter college and pursue science, technology, engineering, and math majors.2. Encourage and support students’ enrollment and achievement in advanced mathematics and science courses.3. Ensure that the participants make informed college choices.4. Support and encourage parents in their role as advocates for their children.5. Coordinate partnerships between the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and local schools.NAMEPA grants the Recruitment Program Award to programs that have engaged minority student populations in engineering. Over the past three decades, not only has 100 percent of INVESTING NOW students graduated from high school, but a minimum of 94 percent of INVESTING NOW graduates have made the transition to college, including 100 percent in 2016 and 97 percent in 2017 – with more than 50 percent of both groups entering college as STEM majors. The INVESTING NOW team at Pitt includes: Dr. Alaine M. Allen, Director of INVESTING NOW, pre-college STEM diversity program and Pitt EXCEL, undergraduate engineering diversity program; Linda Demoise, Academic Support Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Emiola Jay Oriola, Associate Director for INVESTING NOW; Heather Mordecki, Office Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Patience Stanicar, Program Coordinator for INVESTING NOW; C. Elyse Okwu, Female Empowerment Mission (FEM) Coordinator; and Julissa Garcia, Student Assistant. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Pitt to recognize engineering alumna Elayne Arrington at 2017 AAAC Distinguished Alumnus Awards

MEMS, Diversity

University of Pittsburgh News Release PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh African American Alumni Council (AAAC) will honor five Pitt alumni at a ceremony at 3 p.m. June 17 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, 100 Lytton Ave., Oakland. The AAAC Distinguished Alumnus Awards are given to outstanding African American Pitt alumni for their professional accomplishments as well as their community stature.Elayne Arrington (ENGR ’61) cleared many hurdles in her quest to become an aeronautical engineer. She earned the second-highest SAT score in mathematics the year she graduated from Homestead High School as class valedictorian. But that year, for the first time in school history, the valedictorian did not deliver the address. Instead, it was given by the class president. Pitt recommended that Arrington receive the Mesta Machine Co. scholarship for employees’ top performing children to study mechanical engineering. But Mesta refused to give the scholarship to a woman. Despite that, in 1961 Arrington became the first Black female to graduate from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. She worked as an aerospace engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Foreign Technology Division. She earned a PhD in math in 1974, the 17th Black woman in the country to do so, and returned to Pitt to teach mathematics for the next 40 years.Martha Richards Conley (LAW ’71) was Pitt Law's first Black female graduate and the first Black female lawyer admitted to practice in Allegheny County. She was employed by the U.S. Steel Corporation for 27 years and retired from there as senior general attorney. A longtime opponent of the death penalty, she was chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. She is a longtime member of the historic Aurora Reading Club in Pittsburgh. She is an official visitor with the Pennsylvania Prison Society and escorted Cape Town Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on a prison visit in 2007.Robert “Bobby” Grier (BUS ’57) broke the color barrier when the Pitt Panthers fullback became the first African American college football player to play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2, 1956, when Pitt faced Georgia Tech. The governor of Georgia strongly opposed Grier’s participation in the game, as did the Georgia Tech Board of Trustees, whose members said Georgia Tech would forfeit the game if Grier was not benched. But Grier had strong support of his teammates and Pitt, who vowed “No Grier, no game.” Support for Grier also came from students and football players from Georgia Tech, who strongly protested against a forfeit. Pitt lost the game, 7-0, on a controversial pass interference call on Grier. Later, evidence appeared to show it was a bad call. Pitt won a major victory off the field that year, thanks to Bobby Grier and his Pitt teammates. DAME Vivian Hewitt (SIS ’44) received her library science degree from Pitt’s School of Library and Information Sciences. She began her career as the first Black librarian for the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. Later, she became the first Black chief librarian at the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Council on Foreign Relations. Hewitt and her husband began buying works of Haitian and African American art while still a young couple, and now the Hewitt Collection is regarded to be one of the finest collections of its type in the world. It was purchased by Bank of America and gifted to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina. The collection is on display at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center through June 30.Cecile M. Springer (GSPIA ’71) holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Pitt. She achieved professional distinction in a number of fields throughout her diverse career, which has included positions as a research chemist for Bristol Myers Laboratories in New York, a principal planner for the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, president of the Westinghouse Foundation and founder of her own firm, Springer Associates, which provided comprehensive strategic planning. She has been recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, a Carlow University Woman of Spirit and a Legacy Laureate of the University of Pittsburgh — the highest honor for an alumnus. Springer is a past president of the Pitt Alumni Association. ### Pictured above: Dr. Arrington (center) is recognized by the Swanson School "for exemplary leadership and resilience as the University of Pittsburgh's first African American female engineering graduate" during Black History Month on February 28, 2017. With her are (left) Sylvanus Wosu, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity; and Gerald D. Holder, Distinguished Service Professor and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering.
Joe Miksch, News Director, University of Pittsburgh News Services

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