Dear MechE community,
The horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the videos showing threats made against Black men and women for simply going about their daily lives have highlighted once again the pernicious effects of racial injustice borne by Black people in our country. The recent disturbing incident at the Stieff building reminds us that we must remain vigilant about identifying and decrying hate, in whatever form it takes, and cannot allow fear to guide our actions.
We, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, say in one voice that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Trayvon Martin, and all individuals who have suffered the same fate matter. Black lives matter. Furthermore, we condemn racism and injustices inflicted upon all members of our community, and will not tolerate its presence in our community.
We believe that everyone has the right to work and study in a supportive environment that fosters a sense of belonging and respect. We also believe that a diverse community and an inclusive climate produce the most effective environment for work and study, and are essential if we are to realize a future that is devoid of systemic racism. To that end, we have taken concrete steps in recent years towards developing a more diverse and inclusive department. These include actively recruiting excellent women and underrepresented minority faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students. We have also created merit fellowships to catalyze these efforts at the Master’s and PhD levels. In addition, we have dedicated time, funding, and administrative support to the formation of the Women of Mechanical Engineering Network, an undergraduate student group.
While these steps have increased the department’s diversity and are fostering a more inclusive environment as a whole, we are still far from where we want to be. Much more work is required, and the events of the past months have inspired further discussions about how we can achieve our goals, and the actions we need to take. Below are some of the immediate steps that we are taking as a department:
- Expanding our Diversity and Inclusion Committee to include staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students at all levels;
- Assessing the current climate and experiences of all members of our department, in order to identify and understand what we are doing well and where we need to improve to create a respectful and supportive environment for everyone;
- Reevaluating our departmental Diversity Action Plan, based on the findings of the climate assessment;
- Appointing two departmental ombudsmen whom any member of our department can contact regarding issues related to the advancement, or lack thereof, of a respectful and supportive environment;
- Sponsoring resources and opportunities for professional development and networking for women and underrepresented minority postdoctoral fellows and students at all levels.
We are also exploring how to meaningfully expand our efforts to attract women and minority graduate students and to increase the diversity of our faculty. We will keep you informed as these actions are implemented. We also welcome your input in these initiatives.
If you would like to share your ideas, comments, and/or experiences, please contact Gretar Tryggvason (firstname.lastname@example.org), Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, or Vicky Nguyen (email@example.com), Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Committee
For more resources, visit WSE’s Resources Diversity and Inclusion page.