It has been an honor to represent the US as a finalist for the GEDC Airbus Diversity Award. I extend hearty congratulations to my new friend and colleague Dr. Fadi Aloul from the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, winner of the award! I also salute 2015 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award Finalist Dr. Martin Baumann of the RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
Fadi, Martin, and I were on the plane together, coming from Dubai to Australia. Prior to meeting each other in the airport, we had not met in person and knew one another only by our respective photos and videos from the GEDC and Airbus websites. It was a joy to wave to each other in the crowd and come together for the first time, in person. Our projects for diversity are different, but our missions are the same: equity and access for people from all backgrounds. It’s one thing to read about someone’s work online, but it’s another to meet them in person and learn more about the person behind the mission. It’s a true pleasure to meet people with warm hearts and humble spirits who work to make a difference in the world by making sure that there are options for people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to engineering education and career opportunities. Fadi and Martin are those people – dedicated, caring, hard-working, mission-oriented. It is an honor to know them.
To my students – you now have a mentor from the UAE, and a mentor from Germany
My students have been incredibly supportive throughout my entire career and I thank them for all of the notes and messages that have been such an encouragement! When I met Fadi and Martin, I knew that they had something special, and their students see them the way that you also honor me. Dr. Fadi Aloul has students who read his CV and want to change their majors to electrical engineering so that they can follow in his exact footsteps! Dr. Martin Baumann designed a computer tool for a student who had disabilities so that she could participate in the classroom activities without being separated out or treated differently — and he didn’t even think twice about it! Both are generous in so many ways, and so now it is my honor to share more about them with you.
Please take a look at the videos below, so that you can learn more about them. Let’s start with Dr. Aloul. Fadi was the winner of the award last night. He developed a common first-year undergraduate engineering course at the American University of Sharjah that includes women and people from many diverse nationalities. He is a proud mentor, because not only does he win many awards, but his students win several awards! Read more about this extraordinary mentor on his website: http://www.aloul.net/.
Fadi’s video for Airbus is here. Congratulations to him, to his mentor, Dr. Leland Blank, Dean of Engineering at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, to family, and to his students. Fadi’s dad passed away earlier this year, and he dedicated his award to him last night. Kudos and congratulations to Dr. Fadi Aloul!
Dr. Martin Baumann is a professor from the Institute of Applied Medical Engineering at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Martin developed a tool to expand the utility of the University’s online assessment process so that students with disabilities could be assessed equally along with all students. Learn more about Martin and his work in this link here (credits: RWTH University News, Nov. 23, 2015), and via the Airbus video below.
Continuing my mission to broaden participation
I thank all of the people who encourage me on my journey: my family and friends, my university community at UMBC and in the University System of Maryland, and a host of wonderful supporters from around the world. There have been so many people who “speak life” and pour into me daily, including my husband, Dr. Damon Tull who definitely deserves the “most supportive husband in the world” award! It is a blessing to have so much support, from so many people, and from so many places. My mother also expresses her thanks. I am grateful to God for the opportunities that I receive to do this work. There is a verse that says, “To whom much is given, much is required, and to those who have been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” The Message version says this: “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” I have been given the gift of having a voice and an opportunity to engage people in developing solutions to problems. It is a privilege to have such an awesome responsibility. The video that Airbus created from my interview can be found below.
As I told the members of the jury, this work is my passion. I don’t want anyone who has a desire to go after a dream, particularly in engineering, to have road blocks that will prevent the pursuit. I want to facilitate the attainment of that dream. I believe that enhancing faculty diversity is an avenue, and that faculty – the academic gatekeepers – have a role to play in increasing access to education, jobs, and career opportunities to people from all backgrounds, regardless of the differences. Dr. Gary May, said it best as he received his very special Airbus GEDC award that recognized his exceptional achievement as part of last night’s ceremony: “Despite common belief, all great minds don’t think alike.” We may have similar goals, but we have different pathways, and different experiences to bring to the conversation to achieve outcomes that will be mutually beneficial. Let’s continue to work together to encourage and empower more people with differences to come to the table, to have a voice, and to make their contributions. It has been an honor to share the message of broadening participation on a global stage. Congratulations Fadi! Congratulations Martin! Thank you Airbus and thank you GEDC!
Photos from the night:
Photos with Dr. Jaime Bonilla Rios, Tec de Monterrey, Mexico, also of the Latin and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI), the organization that encouraged my initial nomination.
Photo with our jury members from Paris, India, Chile, and Australia.