Wichita State director nominated for $10,000 diversity award
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the Global Engineering Dean’s Council (GEDC) have announced Wichita State University’s Ana Lazarin as a finalist in an inaugural award competition that will culminate at the group’s annual conference Sunday through Wednesday, Oct. 20-23, in Chicago.
The GEDC Airbus Diversity Award has been created to recognize individuals who are proactive in bringing diversity to engineering classrooms. The award, which carries a $10,000 prize to support the recipient’s continued work in this field, aims to give visibility and incentive to initiatives that encourage students of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering.
Lazarin is director of Programs to Broaden Participation in Engineering at Wichita State. She works with underrepresented groups of students in engineering, managing outreach, recruitment and retention programs that include Engineering Summer Camp, Changing Faces Program, Bridge for Engineering and Engineering Technology Students.
She was nominated by WSU Dean of Engineering Vish Prasad and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Lawrence Whitman for her work in bringing diversity to students in their department.
According to Lazarin, diversity is an important element in engineering.
“Engineers from diverse backgrounds can offer different perspectives when approaching a design, problem or solution,” she said. “The United States is rich in diversity, and it's important that the engineering discipline reflects the country's population.”
Lazarin herself is a product of diversity in education.
Although she is a U.S. citizen now, when she first came here from Mexico Lazarin was a scared 13-year-old who didn’t speak English.
“As an underrepresented student in engineering and first generation, I had to overcome a number of obstacles to successfully complete my college education,” Lazarin said.
With support from her family and others who believed in her, she now helps other people succeed at her alma mater.
“My experiences gave me the passion to work with younger students and parents in promoting diversity in engineering at WSU,” she said. “I am familiar with the challenges that underrepresented students face and the importance to inform the students and their families about the opportunities in higher education and in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.”
The GEDC award is open to anyone working with or in an engineering faculty, school or college of engineering to enhance diversity within the engineering student body.
Lazarin is one of three finalists who will travel to the GEDC conference. Other nominees in the running hail from the University of Notre Dame and Universidad de Sevilla, Spain. Runner-up prizes are $1,500 each. The awards ceremony will take place during a gala dinner on Monday, Oct. 21, at the Art Institute of Chicago.