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UW offering fellowship to increase diversity in engineering, technology

Along with five other Ontario universities
University of Waterloo sign 2
Blair Adams/KitchenerToday

NEWS RELEASE
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO
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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 Métis) and Black graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

The partnership includes the engineering and math faculties at the University of Waterloo, and the engineering faculties at McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Western University. The IBET Momentum Fellowships will include funding support, and work to provide access to networking and partnership opportunities. Partner universities will tailor their structure and features to support student experience at their institutions.

“Seeing is believing,” said Mary Wells, Dean of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. “How can we encourage Indigenous and Black students to come to our nation’s engineering schools if they don’t regularly experience Indigenous or Black professors, teaching and undertaking research in the schools and programs we want them to attend? The IBET PhD Project is a step in the right direction to increase diversity in universities across Canada.”

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.

“We believe there are fewer than 15 Indigenous and Black engineering faculty members across Canada,” said Tizazu Mekonnen, Inaugural Director of the IBET PhD Project. “The partner universities share an 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.”

Fellowship recipients will receive $25,000 a year for four years as they pursue doctorate degrees and specialized engineering research. Interested Canadian students can apply directly to partner universities as part of the overall application process for doctoral programs.

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