DEI Campus Spotlight: Jinjuan She
Learn about the DEI campus work being led by Jinjuan She, assistant professor in CEC's Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering department.
DEI Campus Spotlight: Jinjuan She
At Miami University, award-winning faculty, staff, and programs work together to provide students with a comprehensive educational experience. Each new academic year brings opportunities for advancement and progress as faculty members strive to further their own academic research alongside their coursework. One of these faculty members is Jinjuan She, Ph.D., who was recently awarded the National Science Foundation Research Grant to further her efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in engineering design.
Dr. Jinjuan She is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and an Affiliated Faculty Member for the Department of Emerging Technology in Business and Technology. Dr. She has been at Miami University for five years and in that time has been a mentor for the graduate school’s Cross-Cultural Mentoring (CCM) program since the fall of 2021. Dr. She has also served as a member of the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering (MME) Department Graduate Program Committee, as a participant in the Fostering a Culture of Belonging (FCB) program, and as a participant in the Advancing Teacher Scholars (ATS) community. She also serves as the secretary of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Design Theory and Methodology (DTM) Program. In the past, she was an active member in the CEC Strategic Planning Committee, MME Undergraduate Curriculum Petition Committee, and several MME Faculty Search, Staff Search Committees, etc. Sponsored by the Office of Transformational and Inclusive Excellence (TIE), Dr. She was also among the Miami faculty who attended the national Faculty Women of Color in the Academy Conference during Spring 2023.
Dr. She came to the United States after completing her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering to pursue her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. Before joining Miami University, she worked in the medical device and computational software industry. When reflecting on her journey from her college years to her current role, Dr. She noted, “I’ve observed a recurring trend: a significant underrepresentation of women in both my academic and professional environments. When I initially chose to pursue Mechanical Engineering as my field of study, it was a decision rooted in passion and curiosity inspired by my father. However, I can’t deny that there were moments when I questioned whether it was the right path, given the disparity in gender representation. Fortunately, I persevered in pursuing my passion, and along the way, I discovered areas within Mechanical Engineering that truly resonate with me, like human-centered design.”
One of Dr. She’s driving aspirations in her work has always been to make a positive impact on others, “particularly on young individuals who may find themselves navigating similar doubts and uncertainties.” Dr. She elaborated, “I firmly believe that it’s essential to support and empower underrepresented students, helping them find their own path within the field. My hope is to be a guiding light for them, assuring them that their unique perspectives and talents are invaluable contributions to the discipline.” One way that Dr. She works to accomplish this goal is through her work with DEI spaces on campus and through her research.
Dr. She was recently awarded a National Science Foundation research grant to fund her ongoing work around team DEI in engineering design. Within the field of engineering, collaboration within teams is an essential key in determining the success of a team, and the ability to work with those from different backgrounds becomes a strength. Dr. She’s project, titled “Research Initiation: Understanding Team Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects,” is “dedicated to delving into how individuals from diverse backgrounds, with their unique equity practices, interact within engineering design teams.” The project team “aim[s] to understand how diversity and equity impact the sense of inclusion experienced by team members during the design process. Initially, our research is focused on undergraduate engineering design teams, and we have aspirations to expand our scope to include professional design team collaborations in the future. In essence, our research is aimed at unraveling how diversity and equity practices intersect within engineering design teams, ultimately contributing to the creation of more inclusive and innovative solutions in engineering.”
The award of the National Science Foundation research grant holds significant potential to advance Dr. She’s project, which would also have a meaningful impact on the Miami community. Dr. She explained that the outcomes of this project are “poised to provide insights into the intricate dynamics of collaborative engineering teams. By gaining a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to effective teamwork, we can strategically integrate principles of DEI into engineering practice. This integration, in turn, will enable us to create more functional and effective groups within the field of engineering.” Dr. She’s work would also impact the Miami community and Miami alums, as her research can inform and positively influence the success of current engineering students and future graduates, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in their professional journeys.
In addition to the professional development of participants, the partnerships that have been built through Dr. She’s project serve as a testament to the commitment to collaboration and inclusive excellence at Miami University. From Dr. She’s perspective, “This initiative is poised to contribute to faster interdisciplinary partnerships between researchers in engineering and those in the realms of social sciences and education. Collaboration across these diverse fields is critical for addressing the multifaceted challenges of DEI in engineering design teams. It’s a testament to Miami University’s commitment to interdisciplinary cooperation, which can lead to innovative solutions and a richer learning environment for our community.”
Dr. She noted, “During my time at Miami, I've witnessed the genuine commitment to inclusive excellence across various facets of the university. This commitment is notably exemplified by numerous faculty members within my department, college, and the broader Miami community. These educators consistently demonstrate their dedication to student-centered teaching by employing a wide array of techniques to understand and meet the diverse needs of our student body. They also make a deliberate effort to provide support and resources to underrepresented students, ensuring their success. I feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such outstanding role models who inspire me to create inclusive learning experiences for my students.”
She continued noting, “Furthermore, as one of the few women engineering faculty members within our department and college, I've personally experienced the inclusivity of our work environment. I'm grateful for the unwavering support and understanding I've received from both my department chairs and colleagues, particularly during challenging times such as family emergencies or conflicts between my professional responsibilities and caring for my son. This supportive atmosphere is a testament to Miami's commitment to fostering an inclusive and empathetic workplace.”
As Dr. She and her team continue to conduct their research and implement their findings, interested individuals are encouraged to follow along by visiting the Human-Centered Design Research Lab website. The lab is actively hiring and interested students are encouraged to apply online via the link. For further information, please contact Dr. She.
Want to learn more about DEI work happening across campus? Read this month's Miami Pulse in full here.