Wichita State News
Photo: Courtesy Airbus
From left: Sarah Rajala, chairwoman of GEDC; Charles Champion, Airbus executive vice president engineering; Ana Lazarin.

Wichita State's Ana Lazarin wins $10,000 diversity award

Thursday, October 24, 2013

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the Global Engineering Dean's Council (GEDC) selected Wichita State University's Ana Lazarin for the inaugural GEDC Airbus Diversity Award. The honor was announced Oct. 21 at the Art Institute of Chicago during the GEDC annual conference.

Lazarin was recognized for her outreach, recruitment and retention programs, which have increased the number of underrepresented minority students in the College of Engineering at WSU by 91 percent during the past five years.

The award included a $10,000 prize to support Lazarin’s continued work in the field.

Two other finalists from the University of Notre Dame and University of Seville, Spain, each received $1,500.

The GEDC Airbus Diversity Award was created by Airbus and GEDC to recognize individuals who have been proactive in encouraging students of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering.

The long-term objectve is to ensure that the engineering industry reflects the diversity of the communities it supports, with diversity recognized as a driver for innovation which is essential to future growth.

Diversity 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 Interim 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."

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Created on Thursday, October 24, 2013; Last modified on Thursday, October 24, 2013