Engineering-ICS Leadership Council’s Diversity Committee Receives NAMEPA Wings to Succeed Award

UC Irvine Engineering-ICS Leadership Council’s Diversity CommitteeNov. 17, 2016 - The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) has selected the UC Irvine Engineering-ICS Leadership Council’s Diversity Committee for the 2016 NAMEPA Wings to Succeed Award in recognition of the committee’s efforts to encourage the achievement and persistence of underrepresented minority students in STEM.
The 25-member committee is dedicated to promoting and enhancing diversity across both information and computer science and engineering schools and to mentoring women and underserved minorities. The group meets quarterly and focuses on outreach, recruitment and retention. NAMEPA cited the committee’s instrumental role in establishing both the Undergraduate Mentorship Program in 2013 and the Office of Access and Inclusion in 2014.
Committee co-chair Leila Rohani says the group’s primary focus is to find ways to help recruit and retain underrepresented students, improve their graduation rate and help them succeed in their careers.  “The mentorship program and Office of Access and Inclusion allow us to meet these objectives, and have a direct impact on students' lives with tangible and measurable results,” says Rohani, senior vice president and regional manager of Pacific Mercantile Bank.
The Office of Access and Inclusion jointly serves undergraduate students from populations historically underrepresented in engineering and computing. The office employs a three-pronged approach: increasing access, creating an inclusive environment, and fostering academic and professional excellence. The office currently provides academic support to more than 3,100 undergraduate students.
The Undergraduate Mentoring Program, which fosters relationships between UCI alumni, community members, industry professionals and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups, has seen an increase in participation of 125 percent since 2013. This past year, 88 mentors worked with 120 mentees.
“The program connects underrepresented students with experienced business professionals as their mentors,” says Rohani. “It has been a successful and rewarding experience not only for the students but also for the mentors. In many cases these connections have evolved into friendships that could last a lifetime.”
The Wings to Succeed awards honor individuals or teams who have catalyzed change to help students from underrepresented groups overcome historic barriers or who go above and beyond standard expectations and are instrumental in the success of students from diverse backgrounds in engineering.
NAMEPA is a national network of educators and representatives from industry, government and nonprofit organizations who are committed to improving the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students earning degrees in engineering.
The Diversity Committee was recognized at the 37th Annual NAMEPA National Conference at Purdue University in early October.
- Lori Brandt