SDSU Engineering achieves ASEE Diversity Silver 2024-26 for DEI effort

From the university level to the San Diego Community and beyond, the college continues to cultivate a culture that celebrates inclusion and supports opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024
SDSU students pose at a table with their presentation boards detailing their research.
From left: Student Undergraduate Research Assistant Naseem Bahar, Cajon Valley Union Elementary School Teacher Amber Walsh, Undergraduate MESA Student Georgia Stepp, Undergraduate MESA Student Samuel Cardona, CCEE Assistant Professor Christy Dykstra, CCEE Master’s Student Tommie Post. All participated in the 2023 MESA Undergraduate Summer Research Academy and Poster Presentation event. (Photo by SDSU MESA).

The San Diego State University College of Engineering was promoted to Silver level status in the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)’s Diversity Recognition Program.

An upgrade from the Bronze level status awarded in 2019, the recognition for 2024-26 honors transformative initiatives that strengthen and sustain an inclusive climate for the college’s faculty, staff, and students in a field historically dominated by males. 

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Theresa M. Garcia cited three principal areas of achievement reflected in the ASEE’s higher recognition: “The inclusivity and passion of the college DEI council members,” which is made up of faculty, staff, lecturers, graduate and undergraduate students;  the support of college and campus leadership, including Dean Eugene Olevsky, who “supports and values the work of the council;” and “council leadership both present and past.”

In the past five years, the college has more than doubled its percentage of women faculty members.

In addition, it has dramatically expanded its MESA (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement) programs that work to support diverse undergraduates pursuing STEM degrees and to create pathways to success.

MESA achieved this by implementing initiatives such as its Shadow Day Program with 185 diverse students shadowing STEM professionals at various San Diego County STEM companies, virtual alumni chats with people of diverse backgrounds, transfer initiatives supporting community college students, and the MESA Summer Undergraduate Research Academy open to students from SDSU, San Diego City College and Southwestern College. 

Additionally, the College created the Daisy Galeana and Theresa M. Garcia MESA Collaborative Annex to support student success.

In the 2022-23 academic year, the engineering outreach unit sponsored over 100 events including conferences, student and teacher workshops, and College of Engineering tours, all geared toward uplifting K-12 students from diverse school districts. 

In additional areas of achievement:

  • The Women in Engineering organization was established to provide resources to women engineering students such as networking and mentorship opportunities, a support system, coffee chats, seminars concerning imposter syndrome and women in leadership roles. For example, in April, 2023, the Femineer Internship Program hosted a Femineer Summit for 208 students from 13 different schools across California.
  • The number of college DEI endowments have more than doubled, accounting for over $2 million in funds that directly support DEI initiatives.
  • In 2023, the College established the “Staff Love” program which encourages members of the community to write notes of appreciation to staff. 
  • The College established a Troops to Engineering program that provides students with invaluable opportunities such as interview preparation, resume support, alumni panels, and networking events with various engineering professionals to prepare them for the transition into industry.

The SDSU engineering community is committed to continue to enrich its programs. 

“Through my decade-long outreach work with our underserved student communities, I have observed that strong role models are extremely impactful in instilling self-belief and efficacy,” said Mahasweta Sarkar, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and senior associate dean of SDSU Global Campus.

“When a young student sees a person of their color, gender, ethnicity, race in a position of power and accomplishment, it instills in them the faith that ‘if they can, I can too.’”

The college plans to continue developing goals by regularly reevaluating and updating its diversity plan and monitoring progress based on student, faculty, and staff demographics. 

Results of the SDSU Diversity and Inclusion Council’s periodic climate surveys, which measure the campus community’s feelings on how their presence, expertise, contributions, and perspectives are valued, are an additional tool.

“We hope that our Diversity Planning efforts will make the College of Engineering a safe, welcoming, accessible, inclusive, and equitable space for all current and prospective future students, faculty, and staff,” said Matthew Verbyla, associate professor of environmental engineering.

More than 20 faculty, staff members and students have served on the college’s DEI committee during the period evaluated by ASEE.

Listed below are the committee members that have served in recent years:

Mahasweta Sarkar (DEI Chair through Fall ‘22), Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Matthew Verbyla (DEI Chair, starting in Spring ‘23), Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering

Thais Alves, Professor and AGC - Paul S. Roel Chair in Construction Engineering and Management

Ollin Balderas Medina, Administrative Support Coordinator

Joaquin Camacho, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Margherita Capriotti, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Maricruz Carrillo, Former Doctoral student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Oscar Correa, Master of Science student in Mechanical Engineering

Christy Dykstra, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering

Natasha Forbes-Celise, Director of the MESA Engineering Program

Theresa M. Garcia, Assistant Dean of Engineering for Student Affairs

Jana Gonzalez, Undergraduate student of Electrical Engineering

Tito Hernandez (‘23), Alumnus of Computer Engineering and former President of the College of Engineering Student Council (CESC) 

Gustaaf Jacobs, Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Parisa Kaveh, Lecturer of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Karen May-Newman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Jarred Sampayan, Doctoral student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Sridhar Seshagiri, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Brandon Wells, Undergraduate student of Mechanical Engineering and President of the Student Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

Junfei Xie, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Wenwu Xu, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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