Building upon the PROMISE AGEP to Develop the PROMISE Engineering Institute (PEI)

The PROMISE Engineering Institute: A Maryland-based initiative and partnership to facilitate faculty appointments among scholars who are underrepresented in engineering.

Partners: UMBC, University of Maryland College Park, Morgan State University, Johns Hopkins University

The PROMISE Engineering Institute will serve doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career faculty to:

1) Showcase underrepresented (URM) candidates who seek engineering faculty positions to eliminate the “there aren’t any minority candidates”’ response,


2) Provide students and postdocs with comprehensive research and pedagogical skills, supplemented by development of national and international professional networks to counter the “we can’t find any qualified candidates” response, and to fill the gap of the “it’s not just what you know, but who you know, and who knows you” adage,


3) Support targeted engineering faculty placement initiatives, supplemented by development of “toward tenure” activities  for campuses in Maryland, and


4) Build tiered PROMISE networks of engineering faculty from all races and ranks that connect within and across departments from USM institutions to combat issues of “lack of a welcoming environment,” “lack of collegiality,” and “lack of mentoring for URM faculty.”


These areas of action and approaches to address myths, misunderstandings, or gaps are informed by reports such as University of Pennsylvania’s Marybeth Gasman’s September 2016 piece in the Hechinger Report “The five things no one will tell you about why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color,” discussions about research and teaching motivations for faculty in STEM (Carter-Johnson, Byars-Winston, Tull, Zayas, & Padin, 2016; Lechuga, 2012), recommendations to improve URM faculty preparation (MacLachlan, 2006; Whittaker & Montgomery, 2014) and attention to faculty retention (Lawrence, Celis, Kim, Lipson, & Tong, 2014).


The new PROMISE Engineering Institute will build upon the promising practices developed through the Maryland’s AGEP and AGEP-T projects (#1309290, #1309264, #1309256, #0202169, #0639698, #1111217) that led to recognition by the White House as an organization with a “My Brother’s Keeper STEM+” commitment resulting in 4 invited visits to the White House during the Obama Administration to discuss URM graduate student recruitment and retention. These White House visits which allowed the PI for this proposal to discuss Maryland’s STEM inclusion, culminated with having 4 underrepresented scholars affiliated with UMBC’s College of Engineering & IT (COEIT) involved with the White House Conference on Inclusive STEM Education in October 2016. In addition, one engineering alumnus of both UMBC (M.S. Systems Engineering) and Morgan State University (D.Eng), and one current COEIT doctoral student were plenary panel speakers on programs with the U.S. Chief Technology Officer of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Chair of the Council on Women and Girls, and other national leaders.

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