MIT School of Engineering first EVER visiting scholar tasked with...diversity outreach

The School of Engineering is already home to a fully staffed diversity office.

The scholar is tasked with ensuring that engineering students are involved in diversity programs.

MIT’s School of Engineering announced its first ever “visiting scholar."

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced its first visiting scholar within its School of Engineering. However, instead of engineering technology, the individual will focus on the department’s diversity initiatives.

MIT announced earlier in the fall semester that it would welcome its first-ever visiting scholar within the School of Engineering. However, instead of being tasked with scholarship and teaching related to engineering, appointee Sophie Vandebroek’s goal will be “to engage engineering students and peers from across the Institute on the school’s outreach and diversity activities.”

While Vandebroek has considerable industry experience including serving as vice president of emerging technology partnerships at IBM, chief operating officer of IBM research, and chief technology officer of Xerox, her contribution to the MIT School of Engineering will be centered around ensuring that engineering students are sufficiently engaged with the university’s diversity initiatives.

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This is despite the fact that MIT is already home to an entire diversity office specific to the field of engineering, which “runs outreach programs under the School of Engineering at MIT for underrepresented and underserved students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”  The Office of Engineering Outreach Programs is stacked with a full staff including an Executive Director and various program managers and coordinators. 

Similarly, Vandebroek’s duties will include “mentoring students, giving lectures on leadership and innovation, and helping to advance diversity efforts in the school.” She will also work directly with the existing engineering diversity office. 

“Over the years I have become convinced that creating and nurturing inclusive organizations is critical to attracting the very best people and cultivating a culture where innovation thrives,”  Vandebroek said. “I am delighted to see the positive focus MIT’s School of Engineering has on this topic, and I’m very much looking forward to being a part of the extraordinary MIT community.”

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It is unclear how the “visiting scholar” duties will differ from those employed by the existing Office of Engineering Outreach Programs. Campus Reform reached out to the university for clarification but did not receive a response in time for publication.

“We are thrilled to have Sophie on board as our inaugural visiting scholar,” said School of Engineering dean Anantha Chandrakasan. “Her extensive background in engineering and innovation, coupled with her expertise in creating inclusive organizations, will enable us to evolve initiatives and continue to foster a culture of inclusivity — which is so fundamentally important to our school and our community.”

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