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Diversity & Inclusivity

MEP Design Challenge students

Cal Poly Multicultural Engineering Program Design Challenge participants.

Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Culture in the College of Engineering

Our efforts have been many and varied and we aim to create nothing short of culture shift in our college through continuous efforts and attention to outreach, retention, curricular changes, and faculty support at all levels. Progress has been made, but much still needs to be done.

Under-Represented Groups (URG) in the College of Engineering include both Under-Represented Minorities (URM) and Women. Over the past five years the college has seen remarkable progress in the percentage of Women in the freshman cohort from 20.2% to 28.3%. These efforts were largely due to Women’s Engineering Program (WEP) and department level activities, some of these are listed below.

The percentage of URM in the college has increase slightly from 16.6% to 18.2% over this same five-year period due to multiple outreach activities.  Recently the college has expanded efforts through commitment of resources and attention.  We hope to see a similar increase in URM.


CENG Diversity and Inclusivity Commitees

As part of Cal Poly’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusivity, the College of Engineering has formed two committees to advise the Dean on all matters related to Diversity and Inclusivity. The CENG Diversity Committee is comprised of students, staff and faculty focused on diversity efforts and initiatives within the College. The Student Diversity Committee was also formed, because we believe in the importance for students having their own independent voice.

Outreach to K-12 and particularly students from URG

  • We host the EPIC (Engineering Possibly in College) summer camp serving 680 Middle and High School students in 2017 which include 40% female and 37% URM students.
  • EPIC has connections to Migrant Ed Program allowing 83 local students to attend in 2017.
  • The college hosts multiple K12 student groups to campus each year.
  • In 2017, we created a $40,000 fund for Outreach Grants to support and encourage outreach activities across the college.
  • SWE (Society of Women Engineers) SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) perform multiple outreach activities throughout the year.
  • Departments such as IME host local high school groups who participate in hands-on labs.

Retention and support of students from URG

Many student support activities occur within Engineering Students Services (ESS). In addition, the college has had both the Women’s Engineering Program (WEP) and the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) for over 30 years. The work of these groups is always changing and adapting to the needs of our students.

  • To support individuals from diversity groups Engineering Students Services (ESS) holds drop-in advising in the Black Academic Excellence Center, Multi-Cultural Center, Dream Center, and Gender Equity Center.
  • In support of the Graduation Initiative that aims to close the achievement gap, ESS initiated a pilot program testing and “intentional advising model.” In this experiment, 35 students from URM received intentional advising and 57 were in a control group. Results will be available in the summer and will inform policies going forward.
  • MEP provides ongoing academic, social and professional support to URM and transfer students.
  • There is a planned upgrade to the ESS and MEP location this summer to accommodate enhanced student services.
  • In 2012 year we formed a diversity club organization (SWE, SHPE, NSBE, WISH) with coordinated social, educational and professional connections. This groups continues to meet.
  • There are 208 CP Scholars in the college that are supported by a dedicated MEP advisor.
  • Cal Poly SWE is one of the biggest chapters in the country with over 400 members. They have multiple activities in outreach, support and professional connections.

Connections to Transfer Students

This population is the most diverse cohort, and thus we are giving special attention to recruit, welcome, and support them in the college.

  • CSC/SE sent 80+ women (and some male allies) to the Grace Hopper Conference for the last four years.
  • Cal Poly hosted the NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) Aspirations in Computing Awards Ceremony for Central California.
  • They sponsored, co-chaired, and sent ~25 students to the SoCal CWIC (Celebration of Women in Computing) conference.
  • They participated in a workshop in Sacramento for the Technolochicas Event (part of NCWIT).


Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering

The Electrical and Computer Engineering departments have undertaken a set of interventions:

  • They post diversity events both on a physical board and on a Facebook page.
  • They have had and continue discussions with students and faculty around diversity issues.
  • The department invited WEP and MEP to its Industrial Advisory Board meetings.

Mechanical Engineering

The Mechanical Engineering Department has concentrated on recruitment of URG and more recently taken the lead to develop a diversity committee and statement.

  • They changed Open House admitted student day to feature a more diverse set of department activities and more women student speakers in addition to MEP representatives.
  • Current women ME students call all newly admitted female students.
  • The department is attending to group representation on the ME website.

Materials Engineering

The Materials Engineering Department created events to allow for difficult conversations:

  • They purchased an entire theater for a showing of Black Panther.  All MATE students, faculty and staff were invited along with members of the Black Faculty Association, Black Student Union and National Society of Black Engineers.
  • The Department held lunchtime discussions with new transfer students in MATE to discuss how they could assist in their integration into the department.  These students are a major source of diversity for our department.
  • They purchased a full movie theater for a showing of "Hidden Figures" open to all Materials Engineering students, faculty and staff.  This was followed by a discussion of gender equity in engineering and in MATE specifically.

All departments facilitate communication about diversity events on campus.

Other Activities

Some of the other activities the college is involved in include:

  • College supports a CSU STEM VISTA working on Equity and Access and the EPIC Summer Camp.
  • The college created ENGR 101 and 301, Engineering Student Success courses, to support students from Under-represented minorities supported by DaVinci/Northrop Grumman and NSF PEEPS grant.
  • A Civil Engineering design course includes bias training modules developed by the Advancing Cultural Change Lab on campus.
  • The Provost and all the University Deans attended the Society of Women Engineers’ premier event “Evening with Industry” showing institutional support of these efforts.
  • Some introductory courses include assignments and guest speakers highlighting diversity (GENE).
  • There is a faculty member teaching computer coding in the women’s jail.
  • The Dean invited and encouraged faculty to take CTLT’s Teaching Inclusion and Diversity Everywhere (TIDE) course.

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