Loughborough University: New project to increase diversity and inclusion within engineering gets Academy funding

A Loughborough University project to help transform the outcomes and experiences of students from underrepresented groups has been awarded £65,000 by the Royal Academy of Engineering (Ra Eng).

‘Don’t forget the Mortar! A new approach to engineering education’ is one of 11 projects to receive funding from the RA Eng’s Diversity Impact Programme, which is aiming to increase diversity and inclusion within the discipline.

The Loughborough study will examine the culture of the University and how it can be enhanced to create more inclusive learning environments and better opportunities for students at risk of poorer outcomes. This will help ensure Loughborough’s diverse student body feel valued in engineering and help reduce funding award gaps.

It will also be the first step towards the formation of the Loughborough University Inclusive Excellence Engineering Hub (IEEH). The hub will have a dedicated space for workshops and a study café, along with staff support to deliver end-to-end EDI activities and research encompassing the student journey from curriculum-to-career.

Speaking about the award, Professor Rachel Thomson, Loughborough’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, said: “We are thrilled to be part of the inaugural Royal Academy of Engineering Diversity Impact Programme, which aims to tackle long-standing diversity challenges in university engineering departments in the UK.

“This exciting initiative to develop an Inclusive Excellence Engineering Hub at Loughborough will build on current initiatives, with a particular focus on accelerating change across our engineering disciplines. Many congratulations to the project leaders, Dr Elizabeth Ratcliffe, Dr Sheryl Williams and Dr Laura Justham on this award.”

Professor Steve Rothberg, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, added: “I am delighted that Loughborough University has been awarded one of the first ever Royal Academy of Engineering Diversity Impact Programmes. Our ‘Don’t forget the Mortar! A new approach to engineering education’ initiative will help transform the outcomes and experiences of our Engineering students from under-represented groups.

“With three PhD projects that will address fundamental research questions surrounding the intersectionality of our Engineering student body alongside and beyond the project, this is an important part of our broader efforts to increase diversity and inclusion across our campuses at all levels. Many congratulations to the project leads, Dr Elizabeth Ratcliffe, Dr Sheryl Williams and Dr Laura Justham, and the wider team on the award.”

The staff behind ‘Don’t forget the Mortar! A new approach to engineering education’ include:

Dr Elizabeth Ratcliffe – Joint Lead
Dr Laura Justham – Joint Lead
Dr Sheryl Williams – Joint Lead
Dr Karen Coopman – Co-Investigator
Aisha Benachour – Co-Investigator
Dr Ksenia Chmutina – Co-Investigator
Professor Tarek Hassan – Co-Investigator
Dr Rebecca Grant – Co-Investigator
Dr Will Midgley – Co-Investigator
Dr Chinthana Panagamuwa – Co-Investigator

The Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering Student EDI committee also reviewed and contributed to the funding application, and representatives have joined the Royal Academy of Engineering’s new Community of Practice for awardees.

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