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This past week the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering (UW) student center named Derek Johnson as the inaugural senior director for inclusion, equity and diversity.

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Johnson, who has been a part of the College of Engineering for three years, previously served as the interim director. The newly introduced inclusion, equity, and diversity in engineering (IEDE) student center aims to offer a space for intercultural and cross-cultural engagement as well as opportunities for students to create connections with others.

The student center offers places to study, as well as access to computers and printers. IEDE was formerly known as the Diversity Affairs office but has gone through a restructuring process. Johnson spoke about his excitement about creating student-centered programs and services.

“I feel like I have an opportunity to work with a great team to support more students to ensure they have the resources that they need and have the support they need to be successful, being a part of those conversations and the planning and development of programs that are designed to support students is something I’m really excited about,” Johnson said.

African Americans and Latinos remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce and are less likely to earn degrees in STEM than in other degree fields. In recent years, numbers have started to increase because of efforts by various people and Johnson is looking to continue this.

“There’s a lot more work to be done, especially with trying to ensure that even students early in their education and are learning about engineering, I think we need to really be thinking about ways to introduce students to engineering earlier in their education,” Johnson said.

Johnson will officially start his new position this week.

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