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  • Writer's pictureCalibre Engineering

Embracing Diversity in Engineering: Shaping a Better Future Together

As engineers, we have an essential job shaping the world around us. The Engineering Code of Ethics reminds us, "Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people." The Fundamental Canon compels engineers to "Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public." We, as engineers, have a responsibility to the people.

June encourages us to reflect upon diversity and inclusivity as we design the world around us. From the celebration of Juneteenth to Pride, this month reminds us that we can accomplish more when we collaborate with differing paradigms, life experiences, and backgrounds.

Studies have shown that companies with diverse teams make better decisions and are more profitable than those lacking diversity. Despite some progress, the industry still has a way to go. Women, People of Color, and LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face underrepresentation across the engineering industry.

Here are a few reasons why a diverse engineering industry will help us go further together:


1. More Creative and Innovative Engineering

A diverse team is crucial for developing new and innovative ideas in engineering. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to produce creative results, which can support capturing new markets. When people from different backgrounds work together, their unique perspectives lead to new and pioneering solutions. Plus, a team of people from varying cultures is more likely to create products and solutions addressing needs that breach the barriers of geography, socio-economics, culture, and communities.

These exceptional engineers have inspired us through the lasting impact they have made on our industry through their innovation:


Garret Augustus Morgan (1877-1963)

Inventor of the traffic light

Garret Augustus Morgan was an influential inventor and entrepreneur who significantly contributed to engineering. He is best known for inventing the modern traffic signal, revolutionizing traffic control, and making roads safer and more efficient. Before his invention, traffic signals weren't standardized, which caused confusion and chaos. To this day, Morgan's red, yellow, and green traffic signals still promote road safety.


Ven Te Chow (1919-1981)

Leader in watershed hydraulics and experimentation

Ven Te Chow, a Chinese professor of civil and hydro-systems engineering in the 1950s, transformed our understanding of how water moves across the land. Using electronic, pneumatic, and sonar technology, Chow created an elaborate watershed experimentation system in his laboratory. His research earned him a National Academy of Engineers position in 1973. Chows' process of analyzing hydrologic systems was one of the essential building blocks that led to how we understand watersheds today. Many engineering students in our industry continue to reference and use his textbook to this day.


Hattie T. Scott Peterson (1913-1993)

First Black woman to earn a degree in engineering

Hattie T. Scott Peterson's achievements in the engineering industry were groundbreaking. She was the first Black woman to earn a civil engineering degree in the US and the first to join the US Army Corps of Engineers. Peterson designed and constructed infrastructure projects for the US Navy and US Army Corps of Engineers, paving the way for greater diversity in engineering. Her legacy continues to motivate aspiring engineers today.

2. Equitable Infrastructure

As engineers, we must prioritize equity in our work, ensuring that projects positively impact the safety, health, and welfare of everyone in our global community.

Diverse engineering teams with purposeful outreach and engagement processes can more effectively identify and address disparities in access to infrastructure and resources, particularly in marginalized and underrepresented communities. Diverse teams help us bridge the gap between marginalized communities and the resources they need to thrive.

Denver's historical inequities (read more in Denver’s Equity study, linked here), including land removal from Native Americans, redlining practices, and wealth inequalities, have had a profound impact on the city's communities, particularly those of People of Color. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice screening system, People of Color are 15% more likely to live in Denver neighborhoods that the EPA deemed highest risk for dangers posed by hazardous facilities.

Engineers have a crucial role in addressing these inequities and helping to change the city's trajectory. By designing and implementing infrastructure projects prioritizing equity and accessibility, engineers can contribute to rectifying the historical injustices that have marginalized minority communities.

For example, engineers can collaborate with urban planners and policymakers to develop affordable housing initiatives and improve public transportation systems in historically marginalized neighborhoods. Additionally, engineers can play a key role in implementing sustainable and resilient infrastructure that addresses environmental inequities, such as the lack of green spaces and tree cover in certain city areas.

Engineers can also leverage their expertise to ensure that infrastructure projects are designed with input from the communities they serve, particularly those that have been historically underserved. By engaging with community members and incorporating their perspectives into the design and planning process, engineers can help create the infrastructure to meet the specific needs of diverse communities.

3. Increased Profits

A diverse workforce can benefit the bottom line. Did you know diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors? Companies that embrace diversity tend to be more profitable because different perspectives and experiences lead to fresh ideas and solutions that can drive growth. Diverse companies also connect better with diverse clients and top talent, which is critical to organizational success.


4. A Positive Work Culture

Did you know that companies that embrace diversity and create an inclusive work environment tend to have happier and more motivated employees? Employees feel more engaged and appreciated in a culture that values and respects everyone's unique perspectives. Plus, unique perspectives lead to better personal and professional growth opportunities, encouraging innovation and cross-training. As a bonus, happier employees lead to lower turnover rates. Overall, diversified workplaces benefit both employees and the company as a whole!


Mark McBride-Wright is the Chair/Co-founder of InterEngineering and an LGBTQ+ advocate. InterEngineering is an organization created to support LGBTQ+ engineers, and McBride-Wright is a widely recognized diversity and inclusion leader. Since its founding in 2014, InterEngineering has accumulated over 1,000 members, helping LGBQ+ engineers feel welcomed and valued in the engineering industry, no matter how they identify.


Let's Go Further Together!

As we execute our call as engineers to design better communities for all, it is crucial to represent the public in our workplaces through diversity and engagement. Not only does inclusivity lead to more innovative and creative solutions, but it also ensures that we are equitably implementing infrastructure. Diversity in engineering helps engineers support the Fundamental Canon, and it can even increase organizational profits and employee satisfaction. Companies that embrace diversity have happier and more motivated employees. Diverse minds have already produced many inspiring advancements in engineering.

As we look to the future, let's strive for a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable engineering industry. In doing so, we can create a safer, more efficient, and prosperous world for all.




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