All students invited: Start the Trend Challenge Feb. 21 to brainstorm culture changes in engineering


Start-the-Trend: Student teams will develop innovative ideas to change the culture to become more inclusive of women and diversity in engineering and to keep more college-aged students in engineering.

It doesn’t matter your major, your age or your campus: Students in Miami University’s Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute want any interested Miami student to join them Saturday, Feb. 21, for the Start the Trend Challenge, a day of creative thinking to tackle two engineering industry issues.

Student leaders in Miami’s College of Engineering and Computing devised the daylong “Start the Trend Challenge: The Change Begins With You” event. Fifteen teams of 3-5 students each will be challenged to develop innovative ideas to change the culture to become more inclusive of women and diversity in engineering and to keep more college-aged students in engineering.

“Participants will leave this event knowing they have started to improve this culture and improve the lives of everyone in the engineering field; They will have started a trend,” said Nora Husani, junior software engineering major and one of the event organizers.

Students are asked to register at by Feb. 9.

The National Engineering Forum’s (NEF) student and young professional outreach, NEF Generation (NEF Gen), is partnering with Miami’s Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute on the innovation challenge.

Among relevant statistics:

  • African-Americans and Latinos made up 12 and 16 percent respectively of the U.S. population in 2011, but they represent just 5 percent and 6.2 percent of the engineering workforce. (National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering)
  • Twenty-six percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded to men in 2014 were in engineering and the hard sciences, up slightly from 24 percent in 2004. It’s more than twice the rate for women, which rose to 12 percent from 11 percent (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2015).
  • The percentage of bachelor’s degrees in computer science earned by women declined from 23 percent in 2004 to 18 percent in 2014 (NSCRC).
  • 1.4 million computer specialist job openings are expected in the U.S. by 2020, but only 30 percent of these positions are expected to be filled by U.S. computing graduates. (National Center for Women & IT, 2012)

Miami is already trying to grow the number of women in computing and engineering through a National Science Foundation grant that funds mentoring and scholarships and ties service to computer science. The grant is led by Bo Brinkman, associate professor of computer science and software engineering.

Amanda Diekman, professor of psychology, is also working on the grant. She recently performed research on women’s attitudes towards science, technology, engineering and math careers that shows that a perceived lack of communal goals — working together and working in service of others — in STEM careers is one of the major contributors to low participation by women.

The Start the Trend Challenge begins at 11 a.m. in the engineering building. It includes a presentation on design thinking, lunch, intensive teamwork, a time for teams to present their work and dinner, ending at about 6 p.m. Judges include two Lockheed Martin representatives.

The challenge is part of Miami’s celebration of Engineers Week, Feb 21-28. For more information, contact Louise Morman, executive director of Miami’s Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute, at (513) 529-0759 or