The Engineering Education Speakers Series commenced at the Clark School during Black History Month in 2021. Our first speaker described an emerging design technique called Black-Centered Design, its history, and why it is needed now in engineering. We plan to have speakers on a variety of topics in the years to come. For more information, please contact Logan Williams (ldawill@umd.edu). Also, please check out past speakers on our YouTube channel.

Upcoming Lectures

Curls, Coils, and Compassionate Design: How A Black Woman’s Personal Experiences Can Inspire Novel Engineering Research

Speaker: Dr. Tahira Reid Smith, Purdue University

Date & Time: April 23, 2021 1-2pm Eastern Time

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Abstract: In this talk, Tahira will describe several research and engineering projects that were largely inspired by observations and personal experiences as a woman and a woman of color.  Although engineers are called upon to address numerous problems that are human-centered, there are some problems that are best addressed by members of the population most affected.  She will discuss several projects that demonstrate how the intersection of diversity, engineering, and design can help to frame novel problems and identify solutions. 

Biography: Dr. Tahira Reid Smith is an associate professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University and is a NASA Visiting Scholar for Fall 2020.  Her research involves the quantification and integration of human-centered considerations in engineering systems and/or the design process.  Her research program has received funding from the National Science Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and many others.  Her projects that involved the intersection of diversity and mechanical engineering have been featured in media sources including National Geographic, NBC's Today Show, Essence Magazine, Reuters, National Public Radio and many others. A highly sought out role model for the younger generation, Dr. Reid Smith's story about her double dutch jump rope invention is featured in two children's books and was on the 2017 New York State English and Language Arts Common Core Exam administered to over 100,000 4th graders in the state of New York. Dr. Reid obtained BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in Design Science, from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.

Past Lectures

Dismantling the New Jim Code:  Towards a Black Centered Technological Design Ethos in Engineering Education

Speaker: Dr. Woodrow W. Winchester, III, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Date & Time: February 26, 2021 1-2pm Eastern Time

YouTube video

Abstract: From recent controversies surrounding the implementation and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to studies finding pulse oximeters more error-prone in people with darker skin, the role and relevance of race and anti-Black racism in engineering design is clear.  In her book Race After Technologyauthor Ruha Benjamin describes “the employment of new technologies that reflect and reproduce existing inequities but that are promoted and perceived as more objective or progressive than the discriminatory systems of a previous era.” She calls this phenomenon the “New Jim Code”.  As the Academy can be considered ground zero for the dominant technological design and deployment paradigms, engineering education is complicit.  Dismantling the New Jim Code requires new design perspectives and power paradigms.  Black-Centered Design is needed.

Black-Centered Design represents a framework by which the diverse and nuanced complexities of Black identity can act as an ethos for creating more inclusive, equitable, and accountable technological solutions.  This talk introduces Black-Centered Design and offers pedagogical and epistemological strategies such as Afrofuturism that afford an explicit foregrounding of Black lives and bodies in technological design.  The engagement of this way of thinking and acting in engineering education clearly represents a cultural transformation and requires systemic change.  This talk concludes with thoughts on barriers in implementation and possible countermeasures in enacting the needed philosophical and methodological changes. 

Biography: Woodrow W. Winchester, III, is currently the Director of Engineering Professional Programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Woodrow is a Certified Professional Engineering Management Professional (CPEM) with over ten (10) years of project engineering and management experiences. Woodrow is also the Director of Professional Development & Continuing Education for the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) and is a regular contributor to the ASEM Blog. Selected as a member of the second cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy, Woodrow is an advocate for more equitable, inclusive, and consequential approaches to technology design and deployment. As a thought leader, Woodrow has published works in influential practitioner-oriented publications such as INCOSE Insight MagazineACM Interactions, and Fast Company Magazine. View more by visiting his public LinkedIn profile.  


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