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Airbus and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC), an organization for engineering education, have announced the recipient of the 2017 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award. Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology’s BIRDS Satellite Project was selected with the Schulich School of Engineering. The Discover Engineering program at Canada’s University of Calgary and the Women in Engineering (WIE) program at the University of New South Wales in Australia were runners up.
Now in its fifth edition, the award was developed and funded by Airbus in partnership with the GEDC. This year, it was granted UNESCO patronage. It aims to shine a light on successful projects which have encouraged more people of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering. Diversity has become an increasingly prominent metric for business success, with 69 percent of executives rating diversity and inclusion an important issue in 2017 — up from 59 percent in 2014.
“Diversity is a cornerstone of our business and an indispensable component for our continued success,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, upcoming executive vice president of engineering at Airbus Commercial Aircraft, member of Airbus’ diversity and inclusion steering board, and patron of the award. “Diversity is not just important, [but] it’s part of Airbus’ DNA. We are committed to further encouraging and enabling all types of diversity to maintain a high level of innovation in our industry. Our partnership with the GEDC is one illustration of this commitment, as we work together to identify successful projects like the one that has just been awarded to develop our next generation of diverse global engineers.”
The 2017 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award recipient, BIRDS Satellite Project, trains graduate students from developing countries in using cost-effective innovative systems engineering to execute a comprehensive two-year satellite project, with the long-term goal of equipping them to commence a sustainable space program in their respective home countries.
Taiwo Tejumola from the Kyushu Institute of Technology, presented the project to a jury of industry experts and distinguished guests, as well as 200 international engineering education leaders gathered for the 2017 GEDC conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The three finalist projects were evaluated on the basis of the impact of their work, evidence of generating results and the possibility to be scaled-up. The winning project was awarded US$ 10,000, and the runners up US$ 1,500.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Taiwo said that “The BIRDS Project team at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan, appreciates this recognition. Our collaborative program provides a unique opportunity for young engineers to compete in today’s global market, teaching specialized, waste-minimizing systems engineering models; developing core skills; and building a supportive peer network. The project also creates a sustainable pathway for participants to implement training initiatives in their home countries, further contributing to the diversification and globalization of engineering skills.”
“One of the award criteria is for projects [to have] the potential to be successfully replicated in other institutions and countries. All three of our 2017 finalist projects have made a significant impact in increasing the diversity of students pursuing engineering studies, and my hope is that my fellow GEDC members will be inspired to initiate similar projects in their home institutions and in their countries,” said Peter Kilpatrick, McCloskey dean of engineering at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and chairperson of the GEDC.
For the 2017 edition, 45 projects were submitted from 18 countries and 39 institutions.