Out of an abundance of caution, the Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) organization, which represents a coalition of industry, government agencies and the ABET-accredited Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Schools of Engineering, hosted its annual conference virtually Sept. 9-10.
The two-day event brought together students, engineering professionals, leaders in production, R&D, and human resources management from top corporations and government agencies, and engineering academic deans.
Quite appropriately, the theme for AMIE’s first conference of the twenty-twenties was “A New Decade: Discovering the Possibilities Through Research and Sustained Partnerships,” and the event featured big names such as Dr. Eugene DeLoatch, dean emeritus, School of Engineering, Morgan State University; Dr. Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Strategy and Engagement Directorate,
and Camille Chang Gilmore, vice president for human resources and global chief diversity officer at Boston Scientific Corporation.
“As we’ve had to adapt to this new normal, AMIE has had to adapt to this change as well,” said Scott Trapp, chair of the AMIE Board of Directors, in his virtual welcome address. Trapp, a diversity executive for the largest defense contractor in the world, is serving for AMIE’s 2020-2021 term.
Trapp (photo inset) is corporate director of diversity outreach in Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Global Diversity & Inclusion office. Lockheed Martin is an aerospace, defense, arms, security, and advanced technologies company. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin employs approximately 110,000 people and is engaged in the research, design, development, and manufacture of technology systems, products and services.
“Given our current environment, we hope with all sincerity that we would be able to come out of this conference with a sense of being informed, empowered, and more supportive of our fifteen AMIE institutions,” Trapp added.
AMIE’s college and university partners include the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have ABET-accredited Schools of Engineering.
“In these unprecedented times, we must ensure that our institutions are provided with the necessary resources to be successful and to keep producing the best engineers the world has ever seen,” Trapp said.
Recent statistics show that the 15 ABET-accredited HBCU engineering schools represent 4% of America’s accredited engineering schools but are responsible for more than 30% of all Blacks who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
“It’s AMIE’s goal to expand corporate, government, and academic partnerships that are implemented and geared towards supporting underrepresented minority students in engineering careers,” Trapp continued.
Currently, AMIE Sponsors and partners include medical device manufacturers, biomedical research and health care companies, airplane and satellite manufacturers, diversity media, and companies focused on aviation, advanced technologies, information technology, aerospace, defense, arms, and security.
There are also automakers and sellers of computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers. Other employers are not-for-profit organizations, which manage federally funded research and development centers supporting several U.S. government agencies. Some sponsors sell hybrid cloud data services and data management, database software and database management systems.
Trapp said that it’s never been more important to recognize HBCU engineering schools through research collaborative partnerships. He also revealed that MITRE, one of AMIE’s industry and government agency partners, is funding the new HBCU Research Innovation Initiative. The study will survey the ABET-accredited institutions in AMIE to promote what each school does best to the public and private sector.
“It’s more than just a nonprofit where talent gets placed,” said Jacklyn Mitchell Wynn, vice chair of the AMIE Board of Directors and vice president for the Federal Health Sector at GDIT Corporation. “We’re investing back into the HBCUs and our partnerships,” she said in her opening statement.
Wynn (photo inset) said AMIE’s aim was to be a center of excellence. She gave kudos to a 2008 study that helped spur the growth of AMIE from eleven ABET-accredited HBCU members to fifteen in 2020.
Wynn thanked the four executive sponsors for their hard work and dedication. They include Alicia Boler Davis, senior vice president of global customer fulfillment at Amazon, Tyrone Taborn, CEO of Career Communications Group, publisher of US Black Engineer magazine; Mike Mullen, a retired United States Navy admiral, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 through 2011, and Nick Donofrio, former executive vice president of innovation and technology at the IBM Corporation.
Over the course of the 2020-2021 AMIE study, each ABET-accredited HBCU engineering school will be assessed to help bolster their course offerings and ensure competition, reviewed within the context of other schools within their home states to determine where interventions are needed, and further equipped to help students and families plan for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Various panels held over the two-day AMIE conference discussed the impact of the pandemic on industry, higher education, government, and students. Panel speakers included Dr. Linda Fischetti of MITRE, Terrell Reid of Northrop Grumman, Mark Pervine of General Motors, Timothy N. Thomason of Optum, Everett Tucker of Abbott Laboratories, academic deans from the fifteen ABET-accredited HBCUs, and engineering students.
During the farewell address, Tennessee State University engineering dean Dr. S. Keith Hargrove encouraged the online audience to look ahead to 2021, when AMIE plans to reconvene on the HBCU campus in Nashville, Tennessee.