The KU School of Engineering recently celebrated its 45th year of its groundbreaking Minority Engineering Program. Over the years, the program has allowed for the implementation and sustainment of multiple diversity programs throughout the School of Engineering.
Programs such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Women in Engineering Program can all trace their roots at KU back to the founding of the Minority Engineering Program over 45 years ago.
For students like Erick Odiniyi, this year’s Vice President of the National Society of Black Engineers, these programs offer an immense amount of support.
“I can come and talk with individuals about my experience as an African American at KU within the School of Engineering,” Odiniyi said. “Moreover, it’s a chance to be aware of minorities at the KU School of Engineering, so I get a chance to experience history and other diverse individuals. Personally, this is like home, family.”
Director of Diversity and Women’s Programs Florence Boldridge, who’s held that position for over 33 years, said the program will have a big push in the fall of 2016 to recruit even more minority students while retaining those already within the program.
This sort of yearly growth is what Boldridge hopes to see from the Minority Engineering Programs in the coming years.
“I would love to see it be three times what it is right now,” Boldridge said. “Just to know I was a small part of what’s taken place and that it has grown to the extent it has, hopefully it will keep going. There’s such a need for support in particular among minority ranks and this program plays a huge part of that.”
According to Odiniyi, diversity and equal representation is a group effort that extends beyond just the Minority Engineering Programs.
“This is a collective effort, humanity,” Odiniyi said. “We should all be interested in making sure we’re all represented fairly, equally so we can live the lives that we really want to live.”