Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
At Illinois, we find strength in diversity and value in inclusion. Collaboration among people with different backgrounds and experiences drives our educational excellence.
Illinois Engineering is dedicated to encouraging and nurturing innovative and highly skilled engineers and to tackling society’s toughest challenges. We know that our entire community and the solutions we create benefit when people from different personal and cultural perspectives are working together. We strive to create an environment in which everyone can be confident that they are welcome to contribute and speak up without fear of bias or prejudice.
We are proud of the improvements we have made over the years. We are routinely one of the Top 5 universities in the country for undergraduate degrees awarded, the number of underrepresented students in our programs has grown by 55% in the last five years alone, and underrepresented students graduate at a rate that is nearly identical to their peers. The world needs engineers who have worked in diverse, inclusive environments, and who are ready to champion those efforts in their careers. We are committed to this work and dedicated to ongoing improvement.
OUR DIVERSITY-FOCUSED ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMS
Academic Research Leadership Network
As a member of the Academic Research Leadership Network, we have access to a wide network of resources dedicated to creating opportunities in government, industry, and academia for people typically underrepresented in these fields. The network creates collaborative opportunities, prepares underrepresented minorities for leadership and success in the engineering field, and increases participation in these fields.
Advancing Women and Underrepresented Entrepreneurs
Advancing Women and Underrepresented Entrepreneurs (AWARE) offers resources and advanced infrastructure that make the entrepreneurial infrastructure more accessible to all. It includes an entrepreneur-in-residence familiar with the needs of those from underrepresented backgrounds, small proof-of-concept grants, and targeted mentorship, training, and networking opportunities.
College of Engineering Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
The College of Engineering Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is made up of faculty, students, and academic professionals. They advise the dean and college and departmental leadership on programs for recruiting underrepresented students, hiring practices, strategic planning, and ways of fostering a more inclusive climate within the college.
Engineering Graduate Student Advisory Committee
Graduate students from across the college address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of the Engineering Graduate Student Advisory Committee (EGSAC). In particular, the EGSAC Diversity Advocate team works with individual departments to build a more inclusive community among engineering graduate students—providing input on and building diversity and inclusion initiatives within the departments.
Illinois Academic Redshirt in Science and Engineering
The Academic Redshirt in Science and Engineering (ARISE) Scholars program prepares talented students from the state of Illinois to succeed in Engineering at Illinois. Up to 25 students are named ARISE scholars every year, giving them an extra year to get ready for traditional freshman-year courses. The program includes a customized curriculum, individual faculty mentors, tutoring, and career services.
Illinois Connections in Engineering
Illinois Connections in Engineering (ICE) is a rigorous program for students from underrepresented populations designed to assist students' adjustment to college so they begin the school year with a running start. Preparatory courses in math, chemistry, physics, CAD modeling, and computer programming give the students a sense of the level and pace of university coursework and develop a skill set of academic strategies for success.
Morrill Engineering Program
The Morrill Engineering Program (MEP) works to attract and retain qualified students from underrepresented groups in engineering by providing academic support, scholarships, community, and other services. Activities such as the annual MEP Awards Banquet in late spring recognize the academic and leadership achievements of the students in the program. Attendance is generally around 350 students, alumni, corporate representatives, and College faculty and staff.
Multicultural Engineering Recruitment for Graduate Education
Illinois Engineering encourages prospective graduate students from under-represented communities to apply to attend the Multicultural Engineering Recruitment for Graduate Education (MERGE) diversity recruiting event. This event provides a great opportunity to learn more about the exciting research projects at Illinois, to meet faculty and current students, and to learn how to prepare a competitive graduate application. MERGE brings promising students to campus for an all expenses paid, in-depth view of the outstanding programs and facilities available for graduate study in engineering at Illinois.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
The National Society of Black Engineers increases the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically succeed professionally, and positively impact the community. NSBE develops its membership into responsible professional leaders through community service, pipeline development (pre-college outreach), and the promotion of STEM. NSBE is dedicated to creating the best engineers for a brighter future.
Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) is dedicated to the development of LGBTQIA+ students in STEM fields. It organizes social, technology, professional development, and networking events.
Society of Women Engineers
At both the undergraduate level, the Society of Women Engineers, and the graduate level, GradSWE, provide mentoring relationships and professional development opportunities for a diverse network of women engineers on campus. SWE is the largest engineering organization on campus and also offers a variety of opportunities to engage with leaders in academia, industry, and government at the regional, national, and international level.
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) changes lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize their fullest potential and impacts the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development. SHPE's vision is a world where Hispanics are highly valued and influential as the leading innovators, scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
Support for Underrepresented Groups in Engineering (SURGE) Fellowship Program
The SURGE fellowship program is for incoming graduate students from underrepresented communities planning to complete a doctoral program. SURGE is a five-year fellowship program, providing fellows a full fellowship in the first year and a partial fellowship plus their departmental research or teaching assistantship in years two through five. Incoming graduate students are nominated for this fellowship by the department that has offered admission.
Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois
The College of Engineering participates in the Sloan Scholars and Illinois Sloan Scholars Fellowship Program. This fellowship is for incoming doctoral students from underrepresented communities. Sloan scholars will be funded through a fellowship and an assistantship while completing their doctoral degree. In addition, scholars will be carefully mentored toward successful completion of their Ph.D. and job placement, along with participating in a series of professional development opportunities. We highly recommend prospective students apply to their department by December 1 to be considered for the Sloan Scholars and Illinois Sloan Scholars Fellowship Program.
Women in Engineering
Women in Engineering (WIE) provides a welcome and supportive environment for women students in the College of Engineering. Companies participate in programs to recruit, engage, and retain female students by providing funds for scholarships and other programs, serving as mentors to female students, and participating in WIE activities and events. Some companies sponsor or participate in Freshman Camp, the WIE freshman orientation program. This program, which takes place in August before classes start, enables the female students to get acquainted with one another and to develop a supportive community.
Individual Engineering departments and the university are also home to a host of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Find out more on their websites.