I recently started watching House of Cards, so I'm still catching up on the adventures of Frank Underwood, but I half-expected to run into Kevin Spacey while walking the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building during SWE's annual Capitol Hill Day. Entitled Diversity and Inclusion Fuels Innovation in STEM, the two-day congressional outreach event united 84 people from 17 different states and 29 co-sponsoring organizations to increase awareness of the need for diversity and inclusion in the STEM workforce.
SWE's Government Relations and Public Policy (GRPP) Committee scheduled multiple speakers and role-plays to educate us on how STEM advocacy and public policy intertwine. Speakers also prepared us for visits with senators, congresspeople and staff members. My fellow Californians in attendance-Penny Wirsing, SWE director of Emerging Initiatives; Brittney Elko, SWE speaker of the Senate; Richard Morley, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) CEO; and Philo Mbong, Science and Technology Policy fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)-and I had the opportunity to talk with legislative assistants in Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein's offices. While California's senators are very supportive of STEM initiatives, it's still important to thank them and stress the significance of why funding STEM programs needs to continue.
Your April challenge is to familiarize yourself with STEM-related public policy. A good place to start is by reading "Changing the Conversation," published by the National Academy of Engineering. Simply educating yourself is a step in the right direction to initiate impactful change. If you want to get more involved, there are multiple avenues you can explore. Get in touch with SWE's GRPP Committee. Talk with your local school board. Meet with your congressional representatives. For those not exposed to the lack of diversity and equality in STEM every day, hearing advocates-like YOU-share their firsthand stories is an eye-opening experience.
With spring in full bloom, it's time for us to spring into action to make a difference,
FY15 Collegiate Director