Improving the Diversity of Faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering (iREDEFINE) offers an innovative model for improving diversity at the ECE postdoc and professorial levels. As a field, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) suffers from a lack of participation of women and underrepresented minorities (W-URM) at the undergraduate, graduate, and professorial levels, even compared to other engineering disciplines. iREDEFINEis a collaborative effort among ECE leaders which aims to proactively motivate and prepare some W-URM PhD students to consider tenure track faculty or postdoc positions in ECE departments of USA universities. The iREDEFINE project capitalizes on a unique opportunity to bring together ECE department heads with W-URM graduate students. Funded by the National Science Foundation and supported by the ECE Department Heads Association (ECEDHA), the project includes an annual workshop held in conjunction with the ECEDHA Annual Conference and Expo and follow up mentoring activities. Over fifty applications were received for the first iREDEFINE cohort. Fourteen were funded by NSF and others were funded by their institutions to form a cohort of 46 individuals. The number of applicants demonstrates the need for such a program. The first iREDEFINE workshop offered in 2017 provided professional development on negotiation skills, a glimpse of the life and career of ECE faculty members, information on different types of schools, tips on how to prepare for a successful academic position interview, and opportunities for networking with over 300 department heads and 40 peers. In response to a post-workshop survey, students reported that they particularly valued the networking opportunities with department heads and peers provided by this unique opportunity to bring students and chairs together at the ECEDHA conference. Participants’ interest in postdoc and faculty positions increased after the workshop with more of an increase in interest in faculty positions. Those who responded to a second survey six months later reported that they particularly valued gaining clarity about the job search process and application materials and the networking. Ten participants responding to this survey had applied for postdoc or faculty positions. One had obtained a faculty position and one a postdoc. Those who attended mentoring teleconferences on topics such as mock interviews, found them to be very useful. Participant suggestions for improvements are being incorporated into the second iREDEFINE workshop in 2018 including a panel of junior ECE faculty and a longer poster session.
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