Dean Yannis Yortsos accepted two awards on behalf of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering at the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) June 26 annual conference in Columbus, Ohio: the ASEE President’s Award and the ASEE Engineering Excellence for Veterans Award.
“It is very gratifying and humbling that the ASEE recognizes the excellence of USC Viterbi in its national leadership on a number of fronts: from promoting engineering, helping ensure a diverse pipeline, advocating for its catalytic role in empowering other disciplines and on enabling engineering excellence in U.S. veterans programs,” Yortsos said.
The ASEE President’s Award recognizes the best use of media by organizations to encourage K-12 students to pursue an engineering education and/or influence public opinion to create awareness about the importance of engineering in modern day society.
USC Viterbi is receiving this award as a direct result of the school’s efforts to promote the ASEE’s Deans Diversity Pledge, which includes Yortsos’ Aug. 4, 2015 presentation of a signed pledge from 102 deans of schools of engineering to the White House. The pledge, which now has over 210 signatures, expresses U.S. engineering deans’ commitment to develop specific diversity plans in consultation with national organizations like NSBE and SHPE; increase K-12 and community college pathways; and increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering faculty.
Yortsos has repeatedly underscored the need for diversity as the “arch that strengthens [the field of engineering] for our collective benefit and advancement.”
In addition, USC Viterbi, along with Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering and the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, founded the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP). Inspired by the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Grand Challenges, the GCSP presents a new education model with the goal of preparing engineers to change the world.
The first Grand Challenges summit was hosted by Duke in 2009, with the second at USC in 2010. Over 100 engineering schools nationwide now offer the GCSP, with participating schools pledging to graduate over 2,000 participating engineers per year – 20 per school. The ultimate goal is to graduate 20,000 Grand Challenges Scholars engineers in the next decade.
The other award USC Viterbi received is the ASEE Engineering Excellence for Veterans Award, recognizing the school’s efforts to help bridge the gap between military and civilian life. Stanford University, UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign will also receive the same recognition.
Through a strategic partnership with the Pentagon, USC Viterbi now has five mid-career officers in its M.S. and Ph.D. programs. The school expects to enroll a minimum of two more each year. Additionally, USC Viterbi has recently launched the Yellow Ribbon program, a pledge to provide an unlimited number of partial scholarships to veterans admitted to any M.S. programs.
“Our active duty military and veteran students are outstanding members of our engineering graduate student community,” said Candace House Texeira, executive director of corporate and professional programs at USC Viterbi. “Our military students’ breadth of knowledge has contributed significantly to the academic community, whether they’re engaging in the classroom while on the USC Campus, or online via DEN@Viterbi while on deployment at locations around the world.”
Yortsos said he felt proud of ASEE’s recognition of USC Viterbi’s efforts.
“Bestowing two awards to USC Viterbi this year is only a testament to the constant work the school does in indefatigable ways over the years,” he said.