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Society of Women Engineers

Black History Month: Andrew Alleyne, Ph.D.

Andrew Alleyne, Ph.D., received the Advocating Women in Engineering Award for sustained and principled advocacy of women engineers.

Published On: February 2018

Andrew Alleyne, Ph.D., received the Advocating Women in Engineering Award for sustained and principled advocacy of women engineers and for demonstrating that gender balance transforms an organization making it more productive as well as more inclusive.

Andrew Alleyne, Ph.D.

Andrew Alleyne, Ph.D., is the Ralph and Catherine Fisher Professor of Engineering in the department of mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He conducts research and teaches classes on decision-making in complex systems and directs the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) center, an NSF engineering research center focused on increasing the power density of mobile electrified systems.

Dr. Alleyne joined UIUC in 1994 as an assistant professor. He became a full professor in 2004 — the youngest person to achieve that rank in the history of his department. He has served as associate dean for research in 2008, and in 2014 was appointed to associate head of undergraduate programs. He has served on key university committees, including budget, promotions and tenure, and diversity. He has held visiting appointments at ETH Zurich; the University of Colorado Boulder; and, through a Fulbright fellowship, the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He is an ASME fellow and a member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

Alleyne receives the Advocating Women in Engineering Award from SWE FY17 President Jonna Gerken at WE17 in Austin.

Acting on a lifelong conviction that well-managed, diverse environments outperform homogeneous ones, Dr. Alleyne has taken the initiative to seek out and hire women faculty, transforming the culture of his department and that of the College of Engineering. He has viewed every personal career gain as an opportunity to advocate more effectively for diversity. After earning tenure, he increased the number of female graduate students in his research group from 10 percent to a running average of 33 to 50 percent and saw a 50 percent increase in productivity, as measured by papers, citations, and funding. The results of this experiment supported his belief in the power of gender balance.

When Dr. Alleyne joined UIUC in 1994, there were no women faculty in the department of mechanical science and engineering (MechSE), and the College of Engineering faculty was 90 percent male. Determined to affect the faculty hiring process, he served two terms on the recruiting committee, from 2006 to 2011 and from 2012 to 2014, most of that time as chair. As a result of Dr. Alleyne’s leadership, the MechSE faculty is now 25 percent female. This change has led to an increase in female engineering students, with a current first-year undergraduate class of 30 percent — a historic high.

Improving the department’s gender balance involved a lot of hard work over time — including reading hundreds of applications. Dr. Alleyne developed a 10-step plan for hiring high-quality, diverse candidates that has been shared with Purdue and Texas A&M. He is also dedicated to career advancement for his female colleagues, including their specialties in his grant proposals, advocating their tenure, and nominating them for honors and awards. He has underwritten the launch of a GradSWE project, and opened his lab to women researchers, including covering equipment costs when necessary.

Dr. Alleyne earned his B.S.E. in aerospace engineering from Princeton University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Marianne, his wife of 22 years, teaches in the School of Integrative Biology at UIUC. They have two sons.

View more of  SWE Magazine’s conference issue on your mobile device by downloading our app on  iTunes or Google Play. In this issue, find WE17 highlights, award recipients, as well as a detailed conference schedule and descriptions by track.

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