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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Students, staff, and faculty in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Washington embody a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences, and yet significant work is needed to create a department that: (i) represents the diversity of our state, country, and world; (ii) provides equitable access to education and research opportunities; and (iii) supports a sense of belonging and inclusivity among all who are a part of our ECE community. Oriented toward these goals are:

DEI Leadership Team

The DEI advisory committee supports the Associate Chair in making balanced and impactful decisions regarding DEI within UW ECE. The committee has five members in 2022-2023:

Denise Wilson

Professor Denise Wilson serves as the Associate Chair for DEI during the 2022-23 academic year and works with the leaders of each of the DEI initiatives as well as the DEI advisory committee to support a unified and substantive DEI program within UW ECE. Prof. Wilson can be reached at

John Raiti is an Assistant Teaching Professor in ECE and is the Technical Programs Advisor at the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) where he teaches in the Interdisciplinary UW Master of Science in Technology Innovation degree program. He teaches UW graduate level courses in Sensors & Circuits, IoT and Connected Devices, Capstone-style Launch Projects, and Robotics (Mobility, Navigation, and Manipulation) with a focus on Human Robot Interaction (HRI). Project examples from courses he has taught can be found here.

Shanti Garman

Shanti Garman is a 4th-year PhD student interested in electromagnetics (EM) and antennas.  She works with the Sensor Systems Lab (PI: Joshua R. Smith) on wireless power transfer for lunar missions and RF energy harvesting from high-power sources on Earth.  Before UW, Shanti completed her BSEE and MSEE at Stanford, launched satellites with Space Systems/Loral, earned an MBA, and continued launching services and programs for for-profit (Microsoft) and nonprofit (Rainier Scholars) institutions.  As a first-generation college student and minority woman in STEM, Shanti has first-hand experience navigating institutional obstacles related to race and gender, and she is delighted to support ECE’s DEI efforts.

Whitney Thomas is an academic adviser for undergraduate students in ECE. As an academic adviser her goal is to help support students through their academic journeys. Whitney is excited to be on the DEI Advisory Committee to further build on this goal and help others in the Department. Please feel free to reach out to Whitney if you would like to discuss anything related to DEI or supporting students.

Sara Mouradian received her BS, MEng, and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley she worked to build useful quantum sensors based on trapped ions. Her research focuses on building robust and scalable quantum systems for the next generation of computing, communication, and sensing.

Future Initiatives (2023)

DEI Small Grants Program – Call for Proposals

UW ECE welcomes proposals for new DEI Initiatives in 2023 in four major areas: (a) collaborations with MSIs (minority-serving) institutions; (b) enhancing and strengthening civility; (c) understanding DEI issues within ECE; and (d) raising awareness of contemporary DEI issues. Proposals with budgets of up to $5,000 and up to one year in duration can be submitted beginning on January 1, 2023 and will be accepted through March 31, 2023. Notification regarding awards will be made on or before May 31, 2023 with most projects having start dates of July 1, 2023. See the complete call for proposals for additional details.

Present Initiatives

ECE DEI Book Club:  The DEI Book Club, established in the summer quarter of 2022, is open to UW ECE doctoral students, faculty and staff who are passionate about creating inclusive and intentional spaces for historically underrepresented people in the field of electrical and computer engineering. The Club meets once a quarter to discuss a contemporary book that explores issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. The book club meets at least once during the quarter to discuss each book and to explore how to apply it to work, studies and to UW ECE as a whole. The DEI Book Club has already explored two books to 20 participants: “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” for summer quarter 2022 and “So, You Want to Talk About Race” for autumn quarter 2022. The book for winter quarter 2023 will be “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.” To join the book club, please contact the book club leader,  John Nettles, Assistant Director of Academic and Career Services in the UW ECE Professional Master’s Program, at

ECE Student Emergency Support Fund: This fund serves as an avenue of financial support for UW ECE students experiencing severe financial hardship. Students may submit requests for unexpected situations, such as health care costs, car repairs, legal fees, travel for family emergencies, stolen goods, and housing and food insecurity. The fund launched in autumn 2022 and is led by Whitney Thomas, senior academic counselor for undergraduate programs. To apply for emergency support, please refer to the application guidelines.

ECE Student DEI Conference Travel Awards: ECE students (both undergraduate and graduate) who are planning or seeking to attend conferences that focus on under-represented groups in engineering (Society of Women Engineers, Society Hispanic Professional Engineers, etc.) are encouraged to apply for travel assistance from the DEI travel award program. Students who are presenting DEI-related papers at or planning to attend substantive DEI activities at other conferences within ECE fields are also encouraged to apply for travel awards. This initiative is led by Stephanie Swanson, Director of Academic Services in UW ECE. To apply for a travel award, please refer to the application guidelines and direct any questions regarding the program or application to

Engineering CAReS Workplace Study: The Competence, Autonomy, Relatedness Survey (CAReS) project seeks to understand how well basic psychological needs of working engineers are met in the engineering workplace. Funds provided by UW ECE support incentives to complete the survey associated with the study. In contrast to a majority of workplace surveys that emphasize barriers hindering the advancement of working engineers, the CAReS project focuses on met, unmet and thwarted needs at work. Diving deeper into underlying needs opens up a broader array of potential strategies to build belonging, persistence and productivity in the engineering workplace, especially for those who are underrepresented in engineering disciplines. The Engineering CAReS study is led by Professor Denise Wilson and Affiliate Professor Jennifer VanAntwerp in UW ECE. If you have worked in engineering or computer science at any time in the last twenty years, whether in academia or in the corporate or government world, we welcome your input through participation in our survey which can be accessed here.

DEI Small Grants Program – Call for Proposals

See sidebar page for more information and learn how to apply!

Past Initiatives


AVELA Outreach and Community Building (2022): The UW Student Organization AVELA (A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access) used DEI initiative funds to support AVELA members in teaching STEM topics to underrepresented minority students in the K–14 grade range during the summer of 2022. In so doing, AVELA supports UW ECE in retaining current students while also reaching out to the next generation of STEM students and encouraging them to apply to UW ECE in the future. AVELA works to provide academic resources and opportunities in STEM to underrepresented minority students in partnership with affinity groups such as the National Society for Black Engineers, the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, the UW Black Student Union, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and other campus student-focused organizations. This initiative was coordinated and carried out by student leaders in UW AVELA.

Initiatives as of fall 2021:

  • Curriculum reinvention: as part of an effort to establish an undergraduate ECE degree program, a committee was formed in 2020 to make major changes to the undergraduate curriculum. This committee prioritized lowering barriers for transfer students, who constitute approximately one-third of our graduates and are more likely to be members of underrepresented groups than direct-to-college students. The curriculum changes will be implemented over the course of a 5-year transition period beginning in autumn 2022.
  • WomXn at the Forefront of ECE Research (WAFER): the first event celebrating women and non-binary researchers in ECE was held Friday, November 19, 2021. The morning was a virtual session open to everyone and featured presentations from leaders in industry — the afternoon was an in-person session open to the UW community and featured presentations and panel discussions from ECE alumni, faculty and students.
  • Graduate applicant support program (GASP): current ECE graduate students and postdocs created a pre-application review program that aims to support applicants to our Ph.D. program, especially those from underserved communities, by providing mentorship on application materials. A current Ph.D. student or postdoc from UW ECE Department will provide feedback on an applicant’s resume/CV and statement of purpose.
  • Recruitment at NSBE, AISES, SHPE, SWE conferences: we seek to increase the representation of underrepresented communities in our graduate student population by diversifying the applicant pool for ECE MS and Ph.D program admissions. Towards this goal, we attend the national conferences of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Attending these conferences enables us to interact with potential applicants, gain insight into institutional barriers, and determine more effective strategies for increasing the number of students from marginalized communities. 

If you are interested in serving on our DEI Advisory Committee, or have any feedback or thoughts to share about our DEI strategy, please contact the Associate Chair for DEI at


Prior to the appointment of the Associate Chair for DEI and creation of the DEI Advisory Committee, the UW ECE Department undertook several initiatives in the DEI space.

  • Groundwork (summer 2020): starting in summer 2020, the UW ECE Department organized a sequence of meetings to collect information and perspectives from key stakeholders. These town hall-style meetings, organized by Professor Mari Ostendorf, Ph.D. candidate Nivii Kalavakonda, and Assistant Professor Sam Burden, were held with students, staff, and faculty, and the responses were compiled to create an internal report that informs our Department’s strategy.
  • Assessing inclusion in the classroom (spring 2021): in spring 2021, Professor Denise Wilson administered surveys designed to formally assess the experiences of underrepresented groups in a cross-section of our ECE courses. The purpose of these surveys was to more fully understand how classroom experiences differ between groups in terms of self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and other measures of inclusion, with the goal of developing effective methods to level the playing field in the classroom by improving the support provided by faculty, teaching assistants, peers, and advising staff.
  • Restorative Circles (summer 2021): in spring 2021, the ECE Department supported Ph.D. student Jordan Drew to organize and lead community grounding events for our BIPOC students, postdocs, and allies. Adopting a meeting model from the International Institute for Restorative Practices, Jordan met with dozens of students over the course of two meetings to help develop relationships, repair harm, and heal from trying circumstances.
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates site proposal (summer 2021): in summer 2021, Professor Chet Moritz and Assistant Professor Lillian Ratliff submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation to establish a summer program for undergraduates to conduct research at the intersection of machine learning and neuroengineering. If funded, this program would partner with minority-serving institutions including Heritage University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College to recruit ten students from underrepresented groups or under-resourced backgrounds each year to gain research experience in UW ECE laboratories starting in summer 2022.
  • Faculty and staff workshops (spring 2021, fall 2021): at the spring 2021 and fall 2021 UW ECE faculty and staff retreats, the UW ECE Department hired Dr Joyce Yen, Director of the UW ADVANCE program, to lead workshops on best practices for defining and implementing our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. Topics for instruction and discussion included curriculum reinvention, effective evaluation, lead vs lag measures, and methods for systemic / structural change.
  • Evaluation of faculty and graduate student applications (summer 2021): in summer 2021, the committees that oversee faculty and graduate student applications undertook major revisions of their evaluation processes. Informed by evidence-based best practices taught to us by Dr. Joyce Yen and Professor Chadwick Allen, applicants are now provided with new guidance regarding the materials they submit, and evaluators are instructed on the use of a multi-faceted rubric.

Research in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

View or download Research in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion brochure here.


Programs and resources for students
Reporting bias, discrimination, or harassment
College of Engineering initiatives
University of Washington initiatives