The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering pioneers for change through investments in success of under-represented minorities

Arianna Nwodu

The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is highly focused on educating the faces of the future providing unwavering support, reliable resources and quality professors to students. One of the top HBCU’s in the country conjoins with a top research university, creating a uniquely diverse and connected college. 

The college educates more than 2500 undergraduates and graduates with a distinctive makeup of that population including 20 percent African-American, 26 percent females and 20 percent Hispanics. FAMU-FSU Engineering continues to build an innovative academic program of excellence for more numbers in minorities and women in professional engineering to attain national and international recognition. 

This fall, the college made major investments in augmenting their faculty by adding 19 new engineering professors at their Tallahassee and Panama City, Florida campuses. These faculty were hired on behalf of the college through Florida A&M University and Florida State University. FAMU-employed Jamel Ali, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering was among the 18 faculty hires. Ali has extensive experience as a former Chief Technology Officer at Acrogenic Technologies Inc., and Postdoctoral Fellow at Southern Methodist University/Drexel University. 

“The facilities, personnel and equipment within the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and National High Magnetic Field Laboratory present a unique environment to develop an interdisciplinary research program,” Ali said. “I look forward to working with a diverse group of students and faculty.” 

In addition to these faculty investments, the college takes initiative in developing a sustainable Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program to bridge the gap in underrepresented minority groups and women in engineering. Clayton J. Clark II, Ph.D., P.E. is a civil and environmental engineering professor driven to find grants that support and stimulate minorities becoming engineering faculty.

“Whether the student is coming from a Research-1 institution or a Historically Black College and University, we have walked their shoes,” said Clark.

Clark was recently awarded a substantial grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to direct a collaborative research study incorporating the Alliance for Graduate Education for the Professoriate (AGEP). This grant focuses on advancing underrepresented postdoctoral scholars and early career faculty in engineering. 

With the AGEP program, FAMU aims to enrich the opportunities of postdoctoral students alongside partner institutions that include the Georgia Institute of Technology, William Marsh Rice University and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Clark will expound upon issues in the STEM program involving other professors to contribute to this distinctive project. The main goal is to provide these minority groups with the right tools and resources to be successful in their matriculation to engineering research faculty.

The NSF awarded a grant of $404,000 to Florida A&M University for this study directed by Clark beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, and ending Dec. 31, 2023. This grant will help young devoted women like Arriana Nwodu who is a graduate student at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering researching collaborative robotics for additive manufacturing.

“It takes a lot of perseverance to undergo a rigorous program like engineering,” said Nwodu. “Despite the difficulty, the environment of the school is unique--in essence providing me with all the resources, tools and opportunities to achieve. I am grateful for my experience, and ecstatic that more doors will open up for young entrepreneurial women like me in STEM.” 

The college has built an environment where a student’s future success is valuable to faculty, staff and stakeholders of both Florida A&M University and Florida State. As a joint college, the mission is to grant students with unlimited opportunity to grow and progress in the engineering field.