ME Ambassadors Program
The ME Ambassadors Program seeks to close the gender and racial gaps in engineering by engaging in diversity- and equity-focused K-12 outreach in our community. A 2018 Pew Research report identified mechanical engineering as having the lowest inclusion of women, at 8%, with only 10% of mechanical engineers being black or hispanic.
The program, modeled after other successful programs nationwide, aims to connect K-12 students and mechanical engineering undergraduates starting in third grade, with the goal of reaching underrepresented students. Current ME undergraduates will engage in peer-to-peer interactions with elementary and middle school students over a three-year period to help youth embrace their role in creating change using engineering skills and to see themselves as future engineers in order to increase diversity in the mechanical engineering pipeline. The ME Ambassadors Program aims to serve our local communities and ensure that the next generation of mechanical engineers represents all backgrounds.
The ME Ambassadors Program at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Mechanical Engineering recruits undergraduate students to engage in peer-to-peer interactions with elementary and middle school students to serve as mentors, design their own activities and experiments to increase the students’ interest in engineering, and provide information about the path to becoming an engineer for students in K-12 schools that have limited STEM resources.
The goal of the program is to:
- Challenge K-12 youth to picture a better world and to help them develop the autonomy and agency needed to embrace their role in creating change using engineering skills;
- Improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in undergraduate and graduate programs in mechanical engineering by increasing the diversity of those in the “pipeline”; and
- Increase the diversity of the student population in our department more immediately by providing a program that our current underrepresented students want to be a part of.
Want to be an ambassador?
Make a difference in the future of mechanical engineering.
"I wanted to talk about how I have used the program when talking in interviews. I was interviewing for entry level engineering and consultant positions across the US. When I was asked questions such as 'What has been a meaningful experience for you?' or 'Tell us about yourself and education.' I would love to talk all about my ME Ambassador experience. As a woman in engineering, being a part of a group seeking to improve diversity in engineering is inspiring and uplifting. I would talk about the personal responsibility I feel to show people who do not have access to engineering that they too can do it. For the companies I was interviewing with, they seemed to really enjoy the outreach side of this program as well as the DEI involvement. In today's climate DEI is very important and being able to talk about this and have experience making a change, I think allowed me to stand out in the recruitment process. It also made me aware of the company's strategy to implement policies that include everyone." — ME Ambassador