A Center for Equity in Engineering at an Emerging MSI
In 2020, UT Austin met the requirements to be designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and was awarded the Seal of Excelencia in recognition of a servingness commitment to support success and community of Hispanic/Latino students and community members. As an emerging HSI, we recognize that we have much to learn with respect to how to truly serve these students.

Our vision is for diversity, equity and inclusion to be the responsibility of everyone in the Cockrell School of Engineering. To support this vision, we have launched the Center for Equity in Engineering, funded by the National Science Foundation, to support Texas Engineering faculty, staff and students in doing the work of DEI as part of their regular jobs and engagement in our community. The objective of the center is to catalyze a culture change in the Cockrell School by leveraging a servingness learning organization framework to recruit, support, nurture and matriculate a diverse community of students. We focus on building an inclusive culture that provides students opportunities to develop and hone technical and professional skills while also establishing their identities as professional engineers.

Our efforts focus on undergraduate and graduate student recruitment and retention, with efforts tied to three pillars:


Accepting that our institution has much to learn, we will engage with other Minority Serving Institutions to enact our theory of change as a learning organization using the liberatory design approach. We will identify best practices and lessons learned that can be realized in Texas Engineering.


We have structured the center with the aim to empower and support the whole community in participating in intentional, transformative and transferable activities for DEI in engineering, leveraging a mini-grant program to support community member-driven efforts and a broadening participation in engineering plan to support faculty integrating DEI into their sponsored research projects.



Accountability and Recognition

A key element of our plan is ensuring that broadening participation activities are appropriately valued as part of the expectations for faculty and staff work and student learning, through evaluation processes, awards and student learning outcomes.

The Team

Roger Bonnecaze

Christine Julien
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Center Director

Courtney McElroy
Executive Director of Diversity and Engagement
Deputy Center Director

Raissa Douglas Ferron
Associate Professor in Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Undergraduate Student Lead

Tyrone Porter
Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering
Graduate Student Co-lead

Maša Prodanovic
Professor in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
Graduate Student Co-lead

Gabriella Coloyan Fleming
Research Associate in DEI
Staff Lead

Audrey Boklage
Research Associate in DEI
Faculty Co-lead

Lydia Contreras
Vice Provost for Faculty DEI
Professor in Chemical Engineering
Faculty Co-lead

Maura Borrego
Professor in Mechanical Engineering
Research Lead

Kiersten Fernandez
K-12 Outreach Coordinator

Risa Hartman
Education and Outreach Staff Director, UT's NSF MRSEC

Tony Silva
Administrative Associate

Christian Bell Onyemali
External Evaluator

External Advisory Board

The center is founded on the recognition that much can be learned from how long-established Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) support students, so we have created an advisory board with members from these institutions to collaborate on these efforts.

Ben Flores, The University of Texas At El Paso
Darren Kelly, The University of Texas at Austin
Pamela Obiomon, Prairie View A&M University
Mark Appleford, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Sarah Rodriguez Jones, Virginia Tech University