Written by Sherwin Shan, Noah Muniz
Aside from competing in the EcoCAR EV Challenge, the University of Texas at Austin’s EcoCAR (UT Austin EcoCAR) team aims to serve a more vital purpose in the community. The team aims to serve as a think-tank for innovative solutions to engineering and inclusivity in the automotive sector. To accomplish this, the UT Austin EcoCAR team envisions becoming a notable student organization across the university that brings together the brightest minds from various fields not limited to engineering, entrepreneurship, and communication. The team recognizes that it must first and foremost be driven by diversity.
This path to fruition includes the team valuing diversity among students of the university as well. To ensure that their goal of a diverse automotive sector is met, the UT Austin EcoCAR team partners with diverse student organizations across campus.
Within the first year, the team is already forming partnerships with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Diversity in Advertising & Public Relations (DAPR), and the Association of Black Computer Scientists (ABCS). These partnerships allow the team to recruit a diverse group of engineers, programmers, and communication professionals into the team. It also serves as a platform for underrepresented and underserved communities in these vocations to rise up and develop equitable ideas for an inclusive automotive sector.
The University of Texas at Austin embraces diversity in many ways to create an inclusive community that fosters an open and supportive learning, teaching, and working environment. With resources such as the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE), the UT Austin EcoCAR team is able to connect with a broad range of students, faculty, staff, and community members to help the team connect its intellectual resources to communities across Austin and offer education to those who may face the greatest challenges in accessing it.
In addition to the UT Austin EcoCAR team’s DEI Plan, the Cockrell School of Engineering (CSE) has an existing college-specific DEI plan. Together, the team intends to benefit from the available resources to foster an inclusive environment, attract diverse applicants, increase diversity and the community’s awareness of diversity, and enable individual and community success.
However, the road to diversity is not as simple as creating a plan and sticking to it. It requires action to be taken. That is what the UT Austin EcoCAR team aims to achieve.
By promoting diversity in STEM through on-campus and off-campus events such as youth STEM workshops in summer camps, participating in the Edison Lecture Series, and Girl Day at UT Austin, the team enables members of SWE, SHPE, ABCS and members of the UT Austin EcoCAR team to begin conversations in communities which might not otherwise have the interest to work in STEM.
Through these steps, the team aims to increase its presence around Austin to further advocate for a clean energy workforce that reflects the diversity of North America and prepares students to work in the automotive and energy industries.