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The AMIE virtual conference kicked off Wednesday, Sept. 8. This year’s theme is “AMIE in the New Normal: Designing New Possibilities,” and sponsors include Abbott, Apple, The Boeing Company, Google, IBM Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Boston Scientific Corporation, General Motors Company, Leidos, Microsoft Corporation, The MITRE Corporation, NetApp, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Optum, Raytheon Technologies, the Intelligence Community, Career Communications Group, and Corning Incorporated.

Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering (AMIE) is a coalition of industry, government agencies, and ABET-accredited engineering schools at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that develops industry, government, and university partnerships to achieve diversity in the engineering workforce.

In their welcome address to the 28th annual AMIE Conference, Scott Trapp, the outgoing chairperson, and Jackie Wynn, outgoing vice-chair, thanked the board of directors, industry, government, and academic partners.

“Thank you for the support you have given to AMIE over the past year,” they said. “The personal and professional sacrifices that were made over the last year as we continue to get back to normal is still yet complex, but we are persevering.”

Trapp and Wynn said they were proud of the progress they had made over the last two years. They increased membership, as well as the sponsorships that partnering organizations have given to AMIE.

In her greetings address, Veronica L. Nelson, executive director of AMIE, said this year’s virtual conference brings together the Council of Engineering Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, students, engineering professionals, and leaders from top corporations and government agencies to discuss strategies to design new possibilities and increase diversity in the engineering workforce.

Nelson said discussions would focus on innovation, technology, research, and best practices to attract, educate, graduate and place minority students in engineering and computer science careers. HBCU engineering schools represent less than 3 percent of the 300+ ABET-accredited engineering schools in the United States.

The opening session at AMIE 2021 featured a fireside chat with Gerald Johnson, executive vice president for global manufacturing and sustainability at General Motors. Johnson is the 2021 Black Engineer of the Year.

Terrell Reid, corporate programs manager for supplier diversity at Northrop Grumman Corporation, moderated an hour-long discussion featuring success stories in designing and leveraging partnerships through AMIE that create mutual benefits.

Panelists included Dr. John M.M. Anderson, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture at Howard University; Jessica Hill, education equity team lead at Google; Valinda Scabro Kennedy, global university specialty programs manager, IBM Corporation; Roderick McLean, vice president and general manager for the air mobility and maritime missions line of business at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company; Desira Stearns, strategic diversity outreach director at Leidos, and Dr. Devdas Shetty, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia.

After the break, keynote speakers included Lyn Stanfield, global inclusion and diversity external relations leader at Apple, Sabina Ewing, chief information officer and vice president for business and technology services at Abbott; and Candice Smith, the director, engineering people strategy, engineering strategy, and operations, The Boeing Company.

Shola Akinmeji, senior manager for manufacturing and product solutions for global procurement at Abbott, served as moderator for the Innovation for The Future seminar. Panelists included Dr. Solomon Assefa, vice president, climate and impact science, and vice president, IBM Research – Africa, IBM Corporation; Dr. Oscar Barton, Jr. dean, Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering, Morgan State University; Dr. Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity; Paul Nielsen, vice president, strategic programs, Optum technology, and Tonya Wilkerson, associate deputy director of CIA for Science and Technology.

Stephanie Britton, the principal customer engineer for the chief technology office in the CE&S division at Microsoft, was a discussion leader for the Technology Community of Practice focused on “Collaborating Across Corporations and Government agencies to Develop Successful Technical and Cybersecurity Partnerships with AMIE Partners and HBCU Schools of Engineering.”

David Canada, director of business operations at Boeing Global Services, led the discussion on what organizations are doing to attract, develop and retain Black talent in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at all levels.

Titilayo Ogunyale, social innovation principal at The MITRE Corporation, was a discussion leader for “The Awakening: What is Your Organization Doing to Move Beyond Diversity to Racial Equity.”

Greg Keller, vice president of engineering at NetApp, led the discussion on leveraging best practices and developing partnerships with AMIE members and partner HBCUs.

Thursday’s opening session will be followed by perspectives on career advancement in STEM featuring speakers from Boston Scientific Corporation, Abbott, and General Motors.

The HBCU Deans Roundtable Discussion on collaborative thinking in the age of Industry 4.0 will feature engineering deans from North Carolina A&T State University, the Florida A&M University-Florida State University School of Engineering, Southern University and A&M College, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Virginia State University, Norfolk State University, Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee University, and Alabama A&M University. Tennessee State University engineering dean S. Keith Hargrove will speak on the impact of COVID-19 on students at HBCUs.

In addition, students from Morgan State, Tuskegee, and Virginia State universities make video presentations for the 2021 AMIE Design Challenge Perspectives. Register here.

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