Ontario universities create fellowship to increase diversity in engineering and technology

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Six universities in Ontario have partnered to create a new fellowship to expand the pathways for Indigenous and Black students pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering to prepare for careers as professors and industry researchers.

Announced today, the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowships address an urgent need to encourage and support the pursuit of graduate studies by under-represented groups. This lack of representation has hindered enrolment of Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) and Black graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

The partnership includes the engineering faculties at the University of Ottawa, McMaster University, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, Western University and the engineering and math Faculties at the University of Waterloo. Each partner university will tailor the program structure and features to support student experience at their institutions. 

“It’s about creating opportunities.” said Jacques Beauvais, Dean of Engineering at the University of Ottawa. “There is clearly an underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous leaders in our industry. Our youth and young adults must see themselves as next generation leaders in engineering education research. Hence the importance of investing in initiatives such as IBET PhD project. We believe that this initiative not only makes continuing education more accessible to those who choose to apply, but more importantly, it gets us closer to creating a more inclusive environment for our students to thrive in.”

“I am thrilled that the University of Ottawa is one of the founding members of the Momentum Fellowships,” added Jill Scott, Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs at the University of Ottawa. “These fellowships will provide opportunities for much needed new voices and talents in the STEM field. In fact, there has never been a more important time to witness the global social impact of STEM careers, and uOttawa welcomes the opportunity to play an active role in training tomorrow’s Black and Indigenous professors and researchers in these fields.”

The partner universities share a belief that greater diversity is needed among academic leaders in engineering and technology to properly reflect all populations and to ensure a full range of thought and problem-solving approaches.

“Currently we believe there are fewer than 15 Indigenous and Black engineering faculty members across Canada,” said Tizazu Mekonnen, Coordinator of Waterloo IBET PhD Project. “The partner universities share the understanding that greater diversity is needed among academic leaders in engineering and technology to reflect all populations and to ensure a full range of thought and problem-solving approaches.”

The Momentum Fellowships are a central pillar of the new IBET PhD Project which aims to change the academic landscape within the next five to 10 years by increasing the number of Indigenous and Black engineering professors teaching and researching in universities across Ontario. The project will also create a pipeline of students who will increase diversity in Canadian technology industries as they enter the workforce with graduate degrees from STEM programs.

Recipients will receive $25,000 a year for four years as they pursue doctorate degrees and specialized engineering research. Interested Canadian students can apply for the IBET Momentum Fellowships directly with each university as part of their application process. At the University of Ottawa, all candidates are given the choice to pursue their PhD in French or English.

For more information, visit: www.engineering.uottawa.ca/ibet

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