Two projects receive Lassonde 2023 EDI Seed Funding

Two Female Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

With up to $20,000 in support, the Lassonde School of Engineering’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Seed Funding supports the development of original initiatives that promote EDI culture, encouraging students, faculty and staff to embrace creativity and find ways to make the School a more diverse and inclusive space.

“We are thrilled to announce the winners of the EDI Seed Funding grant competition, whose innovative projects showcase a strong commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in engineering and STEM-related fields,” says Reza Rizvi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and Chair of the EDI sub-committee at Lassonde.

The first project, Getting on with Tech, is led by Jean-Jacques Rosseau, research associate, and Michael Jenkin, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. The pilot initiative will establish a community learning program that promotes public understanding of computer science. It aims to provide equitable access to a technical education, targeting adult learners from communities that are underrepresented in STEAM – that is, science, tech, engineering, arts and math – disciplines including women, recent immigrants, Black and Indigenous communities.

For that audience, the project’s goal is to close the knowledge gap about computers and build confidence to solve problems of interest using digital technology. Program participants will also be encouraged to become self-directed and pursue formal and informal learning opportunities in STEAM. The curriculum includes concepts and methods to develop literacy in web publishing, artificial intelligence and data science and visualization.

Getting on with Tech will use the Keele campus for its activities, promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment for local community members, and involve collaboration with Lisa Cole, director of programming of Lassonde’s k2i academy and Itah Sadu, managing director of Blackhurst Cultural Centre.

The second funded project, Integrating EDI components into MECH curriculum, is led by Cuiying Jian, assistant professor in mechanical engineering. The original initiative aims to address the low coverage of EDI principles in engineering education.

In order to do so, Lassonde’s funding will support the identification and creation of engineering-related EDI materials, including multimedia resources, guest lectures, workshops and more. The project’s co-developers are Siu Ning Leung, associate professor and undergraduate program director for mechanical engineering, and Alidad Amirfazli, mechanical engineering professor and department Chair, as well as the Lassonde Educational Innovation Studio (LEIS), who will help ensure materials align with engineering program standards, while collaboratively working with individual course instructors to integrate materials into course syllabuses and assess program design. Integrating these materials in the curriculum will immerse students in an environment combining EDI principles with engineering practices, to shape future leaders in the workforce.

“By supporting these projects, we are taking a significant step towards creating a more diverse and inclusive community at Lassonde and beyond. These projects represent original and actionable approaches, and we look forward to the positive impact they will have,” says Rizvi.

Previous funding recipients developed successful projects ranging from EDI training programs to educational workshops while focusing on empowering marginalized communities, providing inclusive educational opportunities and promoting positive change.

Learn more about Lassonde’s EDI Seed Funding initiative and apply for the next round of funding by visiting the information page on the Lassonde website. You can also check out the winners of the first round of EDI Seed Funding from 2022.