College of Engineering hosts inaugural Engineering Equity Summit


By Gabrielle Stewart

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion (CEOI) held its first annual Engineering Equity Summit from April 10-11. The event, “Evolving Behaviors to Make Strides in Policy,” was held virtually and presented by the Penn State College of Engineering Diversity Round Table (DRT).

The summit included presentations from several keynote speakers. Attendees were invited to learn about a variety of topics, including allyship, policy changes, being unapologetically yourself and more. In total, 99 attendees participated in lectures, breakout room talks and a panel discussion across the two days of the summit.

“The inaugural Engineering Equity Summit was an inspiring and energizing way to wrap up the 2020-21 academic year,” said Lauren Griggs, director of the Multicultural Engineering Program. “The summit enabled the College of Engineering community to learn from one another and reflect on actionable steps to continue to take in our efforts to promote justice and equity in the engineering community here at Penn State and across the global engineering workforce.”

Event organizers chose topics and speakers to heighten awareness for the workplace challenges posed to people from underrepresented backgrounds, according to Brianna Wilson, an industrial engineering senior and facilitator of the DRT.

“We wanted to empower and educate students, faculty and staff on certain issues often faced in industry,” said Sybil Owusu-Bempah, a second-year undergraduate biomedical engineering student and associate facilitator for the DRT.

Keynote speakers for the event included:

  • Paula Garcia Todd, global strategic manager of international flavors and fragrances at Pharma Solutions. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at Penn State in 2003.
  • Lisa Williams, global strategic sourcing director of bulk marine and terminals at The Dow Chemical Company. She earned her master of manufacturing management at Penn State in 1998.
  • Sharaé Meredith, chief senior research engineer of interim analytics and wargaming branch at Georgia Tech Research Institute. She earned her doctorate in aerospace engineering at Penn State in 2016.
  • Sandra Allain, director of Law, Policy and Engineering, professor of practice and lecturer in law at Penn State.

With continued support from the CEOI, the success of the first summit is expected to continue with each successive event in the following years, according to the organizers.

“We aimed to create an event that was inclusive, informative and innovative, and we did just that with the first-ever Engineering Equity Summit,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us to create an equitable society, but as long as we are all willing to learn, adapt and grow, the future is bright.”


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Megan Lakatos