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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board of Water and Power Commissioners has approved an agreement with Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) to help achieve diversity in the engineering workforce.

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The agreement will allow the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to partner with AMIE and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) on research projects to meet city and state mandates. The agreement is for five years, for an amount not to exceed $5 million.

AMIE, a nonprofit organization that develops industry, government, and university partnerships, will coordinate technical and scientific research on behalf of LADWP with fifteen ABET-accredited HBCU Schools of Engineering.

The research partnership was based on recommendations from LADWP’s Racial Equity Action Plan, published in 2021, a racial equity study with the goal of strengthening the workforce, supplier diversity, economic development, community engagement, and Equal Employment Opportunity programs.

“AMIE is honored to participate in this historic partnership agreement with LADWP,” said Veronica L. Nelson, executive director of AMIE (photo inset). “This unique research partnership recognizes the significant value and impact of collaborating with the HBCU Schools of Engineering. This partnership will help address LADWP’s business needs as well as their goal to continue to develop a diverse workforce.”

ABET-accredited HBCUs include Alabama A&M University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University of the District of Columbia and Virginia State University.

“LADWP has incredibly challenging goals ahead of us, and guaranteeing that we have consistent access to high-quality scientific research is an essential part of staying on target,” said Board of Water and Power Commission President Cynthia McClain-Hill. “I am thrilled that the Department has chosen to align with AMIE and these nationally recognized research institutions that also have a strong tradition of empowering African Americans who were historically excluded from higher education opportunities. As LADWP looks to become a more inclusive organization, this is a significant partnership.”

Topics for potential technical and research projects include commercial stormwater capture potential analysis, microgrid, and energy storage system assessment, and economic and job analysis of LADWP’s energy efficiency programs.

The research will help LADWP meet technical water and energy goals and mandates relating to promoting water conservation; enhancing water recycling and climate adaptation planning; developing energy efficiency programs; electrifying the transportation network; promoting local solar, and improving workforce engagement.

“This initiative is an example of what the department’s development of a Racial Equity Action Plan and the creation of an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are meant to do—to create opportunities where there may not have been before,” said Martin L. Adams, LADWP general manager and chief engineer. “This partnership with AMIE to engage HBCUs at the research level will also further strengthen our ability at LADWP to attract top talent from the nationally recognized programs for future employment at LADWP.”

In addition to collaboration on research, the department will work closely with the schools’ research faculty and curriculum developers to enhance training on the diverse set of fields required to manage Los Angeles’ water and power systems.

“As LADWP attracts top scientific talent for our next generation, we must also keep equity in mind to ensure we are reaching potential candidates who may not have been traditionally represented in our ranks and in the utility industry,” said Monique Earl, LADWP senior assistant general manager, and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer. “Refocusing our recruitment programs to engage with HBCUs and other educational institutions championing diversity is key to creating robust pathways to employment for underrepresented groups and ultimately transforming our workplace to a more inclusive one.”

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