Engineering dean says diversity is key to future competitiveness

July 22, 1999

Engineering dean says diversity is key to future competitiveness

EDITORS: To see some of these innovative programs in action, or speak with a few of the students and faculty who represent Michigan’s successes in this area, give us a call.

ANN ARBOR—The future of engineering and American economic competitiveness lies in recruiting more women and underrepresented minorities into the ranks of engineering, according to Stephen W. Director, chair of the Engineering Dean’s Council for the American Society of Engineering Education and the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

Director testified on this vital theme July 20 before the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development in Washington, D.C.

“Right now America’s colleges are not educating a large enough, or diverse enough, pool of future engineers to meet the increasing demand for technologically educated employees,” Director told the panel. “As a result we, as a nation, will be unable to remain competitive in the international marketplace, or to continue as the world’s leaders in technology development and application.”

Director detailed some innovative recruitment and pre-college education programs offered by Michigan and other leading engineering schools that aim to get female and minority students engaged in engineering at a critical point in their development—as young as seventh grade—and to get them setting their sights on high goals.

He also spoke to the controversial topic of affirmative action, saying that it is essential “to consider the whole person, not just the test scores and grade point averages when making admission decisions.” Failure to do so would exclude some of the female and minority students who can and should succeed in engineering.

Director emphasized that recruitment alone will not do the trick, however: engineering schools have to ensure the students’ successful completion of a program. “Success in increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities into science, engineering, and technology (SET) requires much more than a good recruiting effort. We must be as concerned with the output as with the input. It is not enough to bring individuals from underrepresented groups into engineering programs; we have only achieved success if these individuals graduate with bachelor of science degrees in SET and either pursue graduate SET degrees or enter the SET professions.”

For the full text of Director’s remarks, visit the College’s Web site at and follow the link to News and Events.

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U-M News and Information Services
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Stephen W. DirectorCommission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Developmenthttp://www.engin.umich.edu News and Information ServicesUniversity of Michigan