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:
To further UW ECE’s mission to provide a top-ranked electrical and computer engineering department with a vibrant learning culture, it is essential that we lead and support a learning community of engineers that encourages and values the unique contributions from our community members.
The ECE department aims to recruit and retain a diverse student body, staff, and faculty that advances representation in the field of electrical and computer engineering. We seek to create an inclusive environment that fosters learning opportunities rooted in equity. The department strives to elevate and honor underrepresented voices that were historically excluded from spaces of education, especially engineering. These voices include but are not limited to diverse genders, ages, sexualities, abilities, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, national origins, immigration statuses, veteran affiliations, and other underserved individuals. UW ECE strives to promote a classroom, laboratory, and work climate that enables the well-being, learning, and the inclusion of staff, faculty, and students and their intersectional identities.
Consistent with our vision, UW ECE strategically invests in three major areas relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion: (1) raising awareness about contemporary DEI issues; (2) actively supporting initiatives that improve DEI; and (3) gathering evidence to inform strategic planning of future DEI activities.
Strategic Plan (2024-2029)
The DEI leadership team is in the process of preparing a comprehensive strategic plan for the future that identifies the goals and objectives of UW ECE for diversity, equity, and inclusion over the long term. This process includes aligning our goals with those of the College of Engineering and the overall university climate.
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 eight members in 2023-2024:
Denise Wilson is a professor in UW ECE and has served as the Associate Chair for DEI since the 2022-2023 academic year. She 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. Professor Wilson is especially interested in improving belonging and inclusivity among students in engineering and reducing or eliminating barriers that under-represented groups face both at work and in school. Professor Wilson can be reached at email@example.com.
Sara Mouradian is an assistant professor in UW ECE. She has been on the DEI advisory committee since the 2022-2023 academic year. Professor Mouradian is especially interested in broadening participation in quantum information science and engineering, an emerging and fast growing field. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Raiti is an associate teaching professor in UW ECE and has served as a faculty advisor for ECE’s DEI Committee since the 2022-2023 academic year. He 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. Raiti is especially interested in interdisciplinary education as is a faculty advisor for the Advanced Robotics @ UW (ARUW) team, and he also helps lead projects in robotics STEM outreach in Seattle, including mentoring the Ballard High School FIRST robotics team, Vikings 2928. Prof. Raiti can be reached at email@example.com.
Whitney Thomas is the Academic Counselor – Senior for UW ECE’s undergraduate programs and manages ECE’s combined BS-MS program. She oversees the ECE Student Emergency Support Fund, which started as a proposal to the ECE DEI Initiatives Program. As an academic adviser, Whitney’s goal is to help support students through their academic journeys. Whitney is excited to serve 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 Reyes is a 1st year Ph.D. student under Professor Matt Reynolds interested in backscatter communications systems. She works with organizations all over campus to promote equity and representation in engineering through mentoring and teaching STEM courses to underrepresented minorities at the K-12 level. Sara wants to help pave the way for other students from underrepresented backgrounds interested in STEM careers, providing representation and pathways to success for them.
New Initiatives (2023-2024)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
See sidebar page for more information and learn how to apply!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Individual Support for Students
Dealing with harassment or inappropriate behavior in UW ECE
UW ECE has created an interactive guide to help you understand and navigate possible options for dealing with any incidents of harassment or bias as a member of the ECE community. Bias refers to discrimination or harassment based on perception of identity (eg race, gender, religion, ability) while harassment refers to systematic/continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party, including threats and demands. Access the interactive guide here (links to .pdf chart)
College of Engineering’s Incident Reporting tool
This form is for non-emergency incidents. If your immediate safety is at risk or you perceive imminent harm to yourself or others, please call 911. UW SafeCampus is also available for non-emergency incidents on Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm excluding UW holidays.
Call 206-685-7233 to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns. This includes support following experiences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and/or relationship violence.
Bias, discrimination and sexual harassment reporting and resources
This form is for more extreme incidents with a focus on bias, discrimination and sexual harassment. If you are in danger, please call 911 immediately.
Mental health services
SafeCampus will listen to your concerns and provide guidance and safety plans tailored to your situation. These trained professionals will talk you through options and connect you with additional resources if you want them. For more information, give us a call or visit our What to Expect page.
The UW Counseling Center is dedicated to its work, seeking ways to enhance the UW Student Community’s access to wellness resources within and beyond UW. They strive to create a safe environment for students to explore and overcome challenges connected to life and learning.
Student Support Organizations
ECE students can find opportunities for community and support within an array of organizations, including many that connect engineers from specific racial, cultural, and diverse backgrounds.
The UW Student Branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) mission is to foster a community within the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department through various networking and social events with one another and engineers in the industry.
The main goal of the ECE-SAC is to be a platform for students to voice concerns, serve as a communication channel between the student body and the department, and provide resources for building a better community in the whole ECE student body. The SAC differs from IEEE/HKN and the GSA in several aspects: SAC’s main focus is not only on professional development but also on community building and creating a sustainably welcoming environment for the whole student body. ECE-SAC can be reached at email@example.com.
NSBE is a dynamic and fun, student-managed organization that strives to offer programming to enhance the academic, professional and social development of its members. NSBE seeks to play a pivotal role in the development of the next generation of engineers and scientists through our Pre-College Initiative programs. NSBE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
SACNAS enables and encourages its members to share information, resources, and participate in peer-to-peer mentorship, as well as to take part in opportunities to give back to their communities and develop leadership skills. The annual conference and regional meetings provide venues for chapter members from universities and communities across the country to connect with one another. SACNAS can be reached at email@example.com. Official membership is not required to partake in UW SACNAS events.
The mission of SHPE is to promote the pursuit of STEM fields for underrepresented minorities and give back to our communities. The UW SHPE chapter is passionate about empowering young Hispanics to become professionals in their STEM pursuits and believes in the power of a supportive community and to engage students in developing in their academic career. SHPE can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1950, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is the world’s largest advocate for women in engineering and technology. SWE UW hosts programs and events to help over 500 students build their network and achieve their full potential as engineers. SWE UW seeks to provide a supportive environment for people of all genders to network and grow as engineers by bridging the gap between college and career. SWE can be reached at email@example.com.
Other Support Services
Our mission is to provide leadership to the University community in achieving employment and educational access for individuals with disabilities.
25 credits total. A maximum of 10 credits from a department may be applied toward the Diversity Minor, including the student’s major. A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in residence at the UW. For a complete list of course options, see the courses page.
We facilitate and enhance a brave, affirming, liberatory, and celebratory environment for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of all sexual and gender orientations, identities, and expressions.
The UW Alene Moris Women’s Center is a catalyst for change. We disrupt cycles of oppression and break down gender-based barriers through transformational education programs, leadership development, and advocacy for girls and women.
The HUB is a department within the Division of Student Life, is funded in part by the Services and Activities Fee (SAF) and relies on its professional and student staff to carry out its mission to enrich student engagement.