New Engineering fellowship offers $25,000 to Indigenous & Black PhD students

Queen’s joins fellowship with six other Ontario universities

Dean Deluzio said students in the program would be connected to a network.

This week, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences (FEAS) at Queen’s joined the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship initiative. 

The fellowship offers $25,000 each year for four years to Indigenous and Black students completing PhDs in the FEAS. The fellowship aims to increase the number of Indigenous and Black students in Applied Science.

“We’re hoping to increase the diversity in the Faculty of Engineering and have more black and Indigenous professors,” Kevin Deluzio, dean of the FEAS, said in an interview with The Journal.

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“What are engineers? They design solutions; usually technological, but otherwise solutions to meet needs in society. That has to be framed from a diverse perspective, otherwise, the solutions will be less than ideal.”

Deluzio explained that, to have more Indigenous and Black students come to Queen’s, more Indigenous and Black professors are needed to represent the student population. 

“The biggest way we can influence [having more Black and Indigenous professors] is to hire more professors, but we also need to increase the pipeline,” he said. “We need to increase the number of Black and Indigenous professors in the community, and in order to do that we need to have more Black and Indigenous PhD students.”

Queen’s is one of six Ontario universities that have joined the initiative. Other universities offering the fellowship include the University of Waterloo, McMaster University, University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, and University of Ottawa. While the fellowship has the overall goal of improving the representation of Indigenous and Black students, each university will tailor the program structure to support the unique student experience at each institution. 

Students may apply to the fellowship directly with each university as part of the application process. 

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Deluzio noted the key way Queen’s intends to support students in the fellowship would be through the provision of support services. He explained that Queen’s would implement a similar system to the Aboriginal Access to Engineering program, an initiative that’s increased the number of Indigenous students at Queen’s at the undergraduate level.

“We created space in engineering for Indigenous students, we made sure there was staff to support them when there were only four students in the program, and then it built to where there are over 50 students in the program now.”

While some details are still being finalized for the fellowship, which was initially proposed in the fall of 2020, Deluzio said students will be part of a greater network with students from other universities. 

“There is the recognition that because the number is so small in engineering at Queen’s, we need to have a network approach to [the IBET program], which leads to the collaboration between six universities,” Deluzio said. “We plan professional development, training and programs and other mechanisms of support that will help as a PhD student and that will launch their career as they continue through their PhD. Students can expect an enhanced level of support, professional development and networking.”

“What I’m really hoping is that there’s an identity and a cohort experience by all the students that are joining this year, no matter if they’re at Queen’s or at another university.”

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