USD's Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering Awarded $2 Million Grant to Revolutionize Engineering Education

The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at the University of San Diego has been awarded a $2 million grant to revolutionize engineering education.

“This is an exciting opportunity to transform engineering education to meet the social, technological and environmental challenges of the 21st century,” said Chell Roberts, Dean of the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

Under the five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s “Revolutionizing Engineering Departments” (RED) project, the school will develop student engineers who are “changemakers” for social justice, economic development and sustainability on a global scale. The effort will build on the university’s designation as one of only 30 Ashoka U Changemaker campuses in the world and one of only two in California.

The school’s program will include efforts to attract more women and members of underrepresented groups to engineering, develop new courses tying technical concepts to global issues and change the culture of engineering education, at both the University of San Diego and nationally.

“Solutions and innovations for the world require a diverse group of engineers,” Roberts said. “This grant will help change the demographics of engineering students and help us attract a more diverse faculty.”

The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering currently has nearly 500 students, including 28 percent who are women and 23 percent from underrepresented groups. Those percentages are higher than the national average and Roberts thinks the school can do even better. “Our goal is to increase women engineering students to 50 percent and significantly increase our population from underrepresented groups,” Roberts said.

The initiative centers on changing the way engineering is presented and marketed to students. “Instead of just focusing on engineers who develop cars, engines or planes, we need to show the way engineering also can make a difference for the world such as developing low-cost, sustainable energy or mass transit systems,” Roberts said.

The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering already offers a unique combined bachelor of science- bachelor of arts degree. Under the grant, the school will be able to do even more to prepare engineers who can effectively communicate, work on teams and consider social, ethical and cultural factors in finding technological and scientific answers to the world’s problems and challenges.

Out of more than 100 applications, the University of San Diego was one of only six schools and the only private institution to be awarded a RED grant from the NSF in the current round of funding.