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

Dec
17
2019

Embracing Diversity in Education: the Pittsburgh Community Gathers for the Swanson School’s Women’s + Networking Conference

Diversity

PITTSBURGH (December 17, 2019) … More than 100 women and men from across the University of Pittsburgh and the local community of women business leaders gathered on November 16, 2019 for the second annual Women’s + Networking Conference, hosted by the Swanson School of Engineering. The theme for the 2019 event was “How We Support Each Others’ Successes through Diversity and Inclusion.” Sossena Wood (BSEE ‘11 PhD BioE ‘18), presidential postdoctoral fellow of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, commenced the event by delivering this year’s keynote speech. In her talk, titled “There is Artistry in Becoming You,” she discussed that her career path was not linear and that her experiences made her a change agent. “Through our individual experiences, good or bad, artistry forms; and often we have to step back, refocus and adapt our view to become the best versions of ourselves,” she said. “Pushback is prevalent in advocacy, but it is the summation of voices and support from others that help make real change.” Following the keynote, attendees participated in a panel discussion about perspectives on Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. The New York Times bestselling book from the former First Lady of the United States prompts readers to find their voice and discover their story. The panel included a diverse collection of individuals from across University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and industry partners. The conference also provided an opportunity for women-led student groups to gather and discuss their goals and activities for the year. Participating groups included Women in Science and Engineering Graduate Student Organization, Pitt DIVA, the Engineering Graduate Student Organization, Society of Women Engineers, Phi Sigma Rho, and the Graduate Women in Engineering Network. The program ended with a networking brunch and reflection of the day’s topics. “We had a great turnout for this year’s event,” said Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Nickolas A. Dececco Professor of Industrial Engineering and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “It was wonderful to have such a diverse group gather to network and discuss how to empower and support one another in each of our endeavors.” Click here to view more photos from the event. ###

Dec
17
2019

Future Kings

Industrial, MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Dec. 17, 2019) — “To cultivate and develop male-identifying black youth into realizing they are Future Kings — young, successful leaders in their careers, in their communities, and in their worlds.” That is the mantra and mission statement for Future Kings Mentoring, the brainchild of Swanson School of Engineering students Terrell Galloway and Isreal Williams and Sean Spencer, a Duquesne University student studying journalism and web design. The group’s idea is one of 30 winning projects in the Changemaker Competition, sponsored by T-Mobile in partnership with Ashoka. Participants range in age from 13 to 23 and seek to drive social change in technology, the environment or education. The team’s goal is to address the crippling psychological effects on black men that stem from a history of slavery, Jim Crow-era laws and mass incarceration. They believe that by mentoring young, black, male-identifying students, they can stop the cycle by encouraging them and showing that they are capable of great success. “At some point in our early lives, we found ourselves in situations that exposed the harsh realities of our society. Some hardships are watching the kids we play with go to jail at young ages and being afraid during daily activities in our own neighborhoods,” says Galloway, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School. “Thankfully, we found spaces that gave us hope for the future by showing us better than the struggles we knew.” “We are anomalies and our stories are not the norm for others with our background. Future Kings Mentoring exists to be that greater place in the Pittsburgh community to make our experience the standard,” adds Williams, who is studying industrial engineering. “We want to reject the narrative handed to us, and leave a legacy of hope, opportunity, and holistic wellness.” The team hopes that by will be able to begin recruitment efforts in the Pittsburgh area by Summer 2020, looking to establish partnerships with local organizations. The 30 winning Changemaker teams receive a trip to the Changemaker Lab at the T-Mobile Headquarters in Seattle for a two-day workshop in February 2020, where they will receive mentorship, seed funding, training and support to make their ideas a reality. “I’ve worked with Terrell and Isreal through the INVESTING NOW program and can’t communicate how proud I am of them,” says Steven Abramowitch, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering. “All three of these young men are doing amazing things, and I’m excited to watch their successes grow.”
Maggie Pavlick
Nov
20
2019

Pitt STRIVE Program Receives UPSIDE Award

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This article was originally published on @Pitt. Reposted with permission. PITTSBURGH (November 20, 2019) ... The Swanson School of Engineering’s Pitt Success, Transition, Representation, Innovation, Vision and Education (STRIVE) Program was recognized with the 2019 University Prize for Strategic, Inclusive and Diverse Excellence (UPSIDE) Award by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The goal of the Pitt STRIVE Program is to improve transitions of underrepresented minority (URM) students into doctoral engineering programs at the University. Using evidence-based strategies, the program aims to foster student and faculty engagement to ensure students’ successful completion of the PhD in engineering. "It has been an honor be a part of the leadership team of this extraordinarily great program,” said Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity affairs at the Swanson School. Wosu acknowledged the support and commitment from the U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering James R. Martin II and the Office of the Dean. “The Pitt STRIVE Program has been transformational in increasing URM PhD enrollment from less than 5% to over 7.5%, enhancing the academic culture and community that have contributed to 13 URM PhDs in the last four years, and significantly increasing the number of faculty with a shared vision for the school’s diversity and inclusion goals,” Wosu said. Under the direction of Wosu and Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering, the program—which has been recognized and funded by the National Science Foundation—has focused on such areas as: Improving faculty engagement with URM students Improving faculty awareness of the impediments to URM success in doctoral programs Promoting a shared vision among vested faculty regarding the success of URM students within the Pitt community Achieving a systemic inclusive academic culture and climate that support the success of URM doctoral students “The Pitt STRIVE Program’s implementation is informed by research and practices that positively impact the culture and experiences of the faculty, students and community,” said David Gau, the Pitt STRIVE Program director of University engagement and communication. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will recognize the Swanson School of Engineering with the UPSIDE Award at a Senate Council meeting in December. ###

Oct
31
2019

Are You Comfortable?

Bioengineering, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (October 31, 2019) … Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, received the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) 2019 Diversity Lecture Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to improving gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering. His lecture, presented during the annual meeting on October 17 at the BMES annual conference, asked the audience to consider, “Are you comfortable?” For Abramowitch, his comfort was with the path that altered his research and career, as well as his advocacy for diversity programs in engineering. Abramowitch attended graduate school at Pitt and performed ligament research in the Musculoskeletal Research Center under the direction of Savio L-Y. Woo, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering. A natural continuation would have been a career in sports medicine, but as he learned more about women’s health and the complications associated pelvic floor disorders, he was drawn to research in that area. “Pelvic floor disorders - such as pelvic organ prolapse - result from a weakening of the muscles and tissues that help support the pelvic organs and cause them to push against the vagina, creating a ‘bulge’ that can extend outside of the body,” said Abramowitch. “These disorders can make everyday tasks more difficult and significantly affect a woman’s quality of life.” Though Abramowitch was encouraged by some of his peers to pursue a “cooler” career in sports medicine, where there was ample funding, he decided not to take the easy route. With support from the then-department chair and Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering, Harvey Borovetz, he got out of his comfort zone and began working with Pamela Moalli, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Pitt and pelvic reconstructive surgeon at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. Together they now co-direct the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Female Pelvic Health. “Nearly one-quarter of women suffer from pelvic floor disorders, with most stemming from injuries during childbirth, and yet we don’t hear about these injuries that women sustain everyday,” continued Abramowitch. “These are not just quality of life issues - they are a quality of family issue.” In addition to his career in women’s health, Abramowitch has contributed to the Swanson School of Engineering’s diversity initiatives with programs such as PITT STRIVE, the Global Engineering Preparedness Scholarship (GEPS), Engineering Design for Social Change: South Africa, and CampBioE. Through these programs, he has helped to create a culture of diversity and inclusion and has worked to better prepare engineering students for a global marketplace. “Once again, some of my peers tried to dissuade me from participating in these programs, suggesting that it would be good for the school, but not for my career or even that I should not get caught up in race relations in Pittsburgh,” said Abramowitch. “But with continued support from Dr. Borovetz, my current department chair Sanjeev Shroff, and our Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs Sylvanus Wosu, I was able to take on these roles and help students get out of their own comfort zone.” Since 2008, Abramowitch has served as director of CampBioE, an immersive summer camp for middle and high school students that implemented a campaign in 2014 to focus on being an affordable resource for underrepresented minorities (URM) and students from underserved school districts. The program trains undergraduate students as senior counselors that provide “near-peer” mentorship for the campers and has, in turn, created a diverse community that makes STEM education more fun and less intimidating. Ashanti Anderson, a 2019 high school participant, said, “CampBioE has given me the experience of working with students of different ethnicities and cultures and allowed me to learn how to connect with them.” A sense of community is an important aspect of Abramowitch’s diversity efforts in the Swanson School. In 2015, he established an annual PITT STRIVE retreat that brings together faculty mentors and PhD mentees to improve professional and personal bonds, encourage effective communication, and help identify challenges that both parties face. “We are trying to create community between faculty and students,” he said. “We encourage them to discuss the difficult things and try to make them uncomfortable so that they can have these important conversations and break these boundaries. We want the faculty and students to be committed to each other’s success.” Abramowitch’s confidence in not taking the well-paved and comfortable path has helped shape his career and make a significant impact in the Swanson School. “Being uncomfortable, I realized, is not such a bad thing,” said Abramowitch. “Connecting with individuals who have a different background or worldview can help broaden your perspective and, for me, has ultimately provided a more fulfilling career.” Since starting PITT STRIVE, the Swanson School has surpassed historic levels of URM enrollment in the PhD program; through the study abroad programs, Abramowitch has helped undergraduate students see the impact of engineering through the lens of another culture; and with CampBioE, he has educated more than 1000 middle and high school students, with more than 40 percent participation from URMs and low-income students since the diversity campaign in 2014. Abramowitch’s impact has not only been acknowledged by BMES - he is also the only two-time recipient of the Swanson School’s Diversity Award, in 2011 and 2014. “What sets Dr. Abramowitch apart is that his work in this area is not defined by a singular activity or initiative,” said Dr. Borovetz. “Instead, Dr. Abramowitch’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is integrated into who he is as a person.” ###

Oct
31
2019

Three Swanson School Alum Recognized by Pitt’s African American Alumni Council at Homecoming 2019

Diversity

PITTSBURGH (October 31, 2019) ... During the University of Pittsburgh Homecoming 2019 celebration, three Swanson School of Engineering alumni were recognized by the African American Alumni Council (AAAC): Daniel Armanios (ENGR ‘07) and Marvin Perry Jones (ENGR ‘59) were honored as distinguished alumni and Rodney Kizito (ENGR ‘15) received a Rising African American Leader (RAAL) award. Pitt AAAC’s mission is to “support the community of alumni of African descent, to strengthen their connection to the University of Pittsburgh, and to promote the recruitment and retention of African American students, faculty, staff, and administrators.” Armanios and Jones received their accolade at the Sankofa 50th Commemoration Gala on Saturday, Oct. 26. The annual event recognizes the achievements of alumni who have made and are making outstanding contributions to the University and the larger community. Daniel Armanios, Rhodes Scholar and Marshall Scholar A 2007 summa cum laude graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering, as well as the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Armanios received the Goldwater Scholarship in 2004 and the Truman Scholarship in 2005. In 2007 he was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, with which he earned two master’s degrees at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. After earning a PhD in 2015 at Stanford University, Armanios returned to Pittsburgh. He is an assistant professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University where his research focuses on the public policy impact upon China and Africa concerning the interrelationship between entrepreneurship, high-tech innovation, infrastructure and public organizations. Marvin Perry Jones, varsity athlete and retired Pan American airline pilot A 1959 graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering, Jones earned a bachelor’s degree from the mechanical and aeronautical departments. A letter winner in each of the years he competed for the Panthers in varsity track and field from 1955-1959, Jones was a member of the 1955 relay team that won the IC4A championship in New York City. Upon graduation, Jones, through ROTC, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, achieving the rank of captain by the time of his honorable discharge six years later. He was the first Black pilot to fly for Pan American Airways in 1965. In 1986, he became the airline’s first African American captain. He was a founder and president of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. His generosity to Pitt has earned him membership in the Chancellor’s Circle for many years. Click here to see PittWire’s full coverage of the event. Kizito received the RAAL award at the annual Sankofa farewell fellowship brunch on Sun, Oct. 27, where they honored rising African American alumni and distinguished members of the Black Greek community. Rodney Kizito: A doctoral student in industrial engineering at the University of Tennessee and research and development engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy, Kizito is actively involved with under-represented middle and high school students and Pitt Excel students and mentoring programs. Click here to see PittWire’s full coverage of the event. ###

Diversity
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3700 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
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Fax:412-624-1108
Email: eodadmin@pitt.edu

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