Diverse Engineering Professionals Conference uplifts underrepresented students

April 29, 2021

Korie Grayson

Image of one slide from Dr. Korie Grayson’s presentation during the virtual 2021 Diverse Engineering Professionals Conference. Courtesy of Chloe Jones.

Several Mizzou Engineering student groups organized the 4th Diverse Engineering Professionals Conference (DEPC), held on Saturday, April 17. Participants heard from underrepresented voices in STEM fields, including those whose careers or primary goal are to speak out on issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr. Korie Grayson, the conference’s keynote speaker, spoke on both her job and outreach on changing the perception of what a STEM professional looks like. She talked about how she fits into her workplace and her advocacy to increase the number of Black and Brown students in STEM fields by highlighting how representation matters.

Audrey Galo, founder and CEO of AG Voiced, led a workshop on imposter syndrome. This workshop helped attendees understand and overcome potential feelings of self-doubt and anxiety when transitioning into a new career.

After that workshop, a panel of diverse engineering professionals spoke about their experiences as underrepresented voices in the engineering workforce. The seven panelists were:

  • Olasumbo (Ola) Babalola, Ameren
  • Jenn Donahue, PhD, PE
  • Chimanga Jackson, Veterans United Home Loans
  • Alice Shao, Emerson
  • Emma Stanfield, Emerson
  • Jaime (Germer) Sobotka, Ameren
  • Steve Were, Ingredion, Inc.

Mizzou Engineering Dean Noah Manring helped kick off the conference, giving introductory remarks to approximately 70 attendees. And Ameren sponsored another workshop, focusing on behavioral interviews and resume reviews.

Moving DEPC Online

Image of one slide from Audrey Galo's presentation.

Image of one slide from Audrey Galo’s presentation. Courtesy of Chloe Jones.

This was the first time the conference was virtual and also student led. Participants still came away with a meaningful experience, according to biological engineering senior Taylor Volkers.

“We had to figure out how to turn an event that was one hundred percent in person into an event that still had the same meaning behind it, but online,” Volkers said. “I’m really proud of the job that we did, and I think the event translated (to online) really well.”

Marshaun Love, a junior in biology with a minor in computational neuroscience, helped lead the transition of the event to its online format. He also works in Engineering’s Inclusivity Center.

“I got a lot out of the event because it was so meaningful to me, with certain talks being specifically focused on diversity within the realm of engineering,” he said.

Engineering student organizations that sponsored the event were Alpha Omega Epsilon, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Mizzou Engineering Student Council (MESC), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics (WoAA).