January Diversity "How Tos"

Young engineer

Undergraduate student Rudy Montoya


Sara Pichette January 29, 2020

New Mexico EPSCoR is committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion. We strive to establish an environment that exemplifies and promotes diversity of all types (individual, institutional, geographic, and disciplinary).

At last year's annual All Hands Meeting for the NM SMART Grid Center, we charged our team members to come up with ideas of what they could do personally to engage a wide diversity of students at their institutions. Here are a few more ideas that continue the overarching themes of “Involve. Encourage. Engage.”

Involve—Students in Research

Research opportunities are transformative. They introduce students to new opportunities and fields of study, and provide networking and mentorship opportunities. The start of the fall semester is a great time to speak with your students about the benefits of student research and how your experience shaped your own academic career. Advertise open positions in class and send out opportunities via email. You could also bring a current student working in a related lab into class to speak about their experience, what they do in the lab, and how they got engaged.

Encourage—Hold Impactful Office Hours

Are students attending your office hours? If so, are these interactions limited to assignment or course content help? While this is a fantastic reason to attend, office hours are a prime time to speak one-on-one with your students, ask about their future plans, and get to know them a little better.

Some questions you can ask your students:

  • When are you planning to graduate?
  • Have you thought about graduate school?
  • What do you plan on doing with your degree?
  • Which industries do you hope to work with?
  • Are you currently involved in any research positions or opportunities?

Engage—Interact with Student Organizations

Get involved in student organizations. Active Chapters of Society for Women Engineers (SWE), Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) or American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)— and many others—can be found around New Mexico and the United States. If you are not connected to a society, search online for a local chapter. If you are a faculty member or industry professional, this is a fantastic opportunity to tell your story, answer questions, and showcase current projects and research. These connections can also be leveraged in the future for recruitment or mentorship opportunities.