The New Horizons in Engineering Distinguished Lectureship Series: Leah Jamieson

The New Horizons in Engineering Distinguished Lectureship Series: Leah Jamieson


[MAN]: Well, we’re really excited today
to have with us Dr. Leah Jamieson, longtime dean at Purdue University 10-year tenure there, and really influenced engineering education. I think it’s fair to say that at this New
Horizons in Engineering lecture today that we’ll hear from someone that has
had a national, perhaps even international, imprint on engineering education. [WOMAN]: So I’m going to talk about, I think the longest-standing
problem continues to be diversity, that we have made, as a field,
some progress on representation of women in engineering, but we’re still nowhere near, I think,
where most of us would like to be. The national average for undergraduate
women in engineering programs has been stuck at around 19 or 20 percent. For underrepresented minorities, a lot more geographic variation, but even lower. Increasingly, study after study is
showing that the quality of innovation is a function of the diversity of
the people sitting around the table, and diversity in a lot of dimensions, but it includes gender and
race and ethnicity and national origin and
economic background and life experiences. Because you simply get
a richer set of ideas. K through 12, that we still have great students, creative students,
who have no clue what engineering is. And so, it’s hard to grow up thinking,
“I’m gonna be an engineer,” if you don’t know what it is,
or if you have misconceptions. I would say that engineering
is a team sport. How widely known is that? And so if you look at studies
about what draws middle school girls to
activities, two things: the the social interaction
is really important, and the fact that engineering
isn’t thought of as a team sport. So I want to do something where
I work with people a lot. I want to work on something
where I have an impact on people. So engineering is a caring profession. Also, probably not one of
the common perceptions. And so I think there’s still
things we’re learning, but haven’t fully been able to
deploy to get the word out, that this is something that resonates across groups much more broadly than
it’s traditionally been the, you know, the “you’re great at math
and science — you should be an engineer.” And there has to be more to it than that. If we can recruit students
to universities to study engineering, we have to live up to that promise that you will be working with people, you’ll be working and learning things that you can see how they’re going
to make a difference in people’s lives. And so, there’s there’s a
getting people in the door, but then there’s also,
what are we doing to keep them? And there’s even a third part
that says, when you’re working, once you have your first job, what are you going to be doing, and does it have some
glimmer of that promise about engineering changing the world in positive ways.

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