Master Planning for Inclusion, Diversity, Excellence, and Advancement (IDEA*) in Infrastructure
Women in STEM know, as well as any others, that while we boast of our career choices and we feel good about making a difference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, that this choice is not without adversity. I have experienced adversity first-hand during the hiring process, in project assignments, and in salary (see

While equity for minorities in Civil Engineering has always been something I knew I needed to thrive in this industry, I am learning now that my success could be directly linked to the improvement of infrastructure in the communities from which I come.

Eight months ago, I got this idea to submit my first-ever proposal to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2017 National Convention call for abstracts. The incentive was that it is taking place in one of my favorite places, NOLA. I decided to host an interactive session to encourage attendants to critically think about how we can do our part in our professions to reduce the long-term harm caused by infrastructure disasters. Part of the title is an acronym from the IDEA Student Center at Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. This acronym was mentioned in the May 2017 ASCE Civil Engineering Magazine by the Editor-in-Chief, which is where I spotted it. In cities such as New Orleans, LA, and Flint, MI, there is still so much to be done to redevelop the infrastructure and cultivate a sense of infrastructure awareness and safety to the most vulnerable residents. Often times women, people of color, impoverished persons, and those with disabilities are the marginalized stakeholders in this process. Minority Civil Engineers and other infrastructure professionals historically were left out of the design of many of these public infrastructure systems, and many of the policies regulating this infrastructure likely does not include the insight of these professionals. The abstract was selected, thank GAWD, and now I need to collect some data for the presentation in October.

SO I CREATED A SURVEY. This very brief survey is intended for minority professionals, in Civil Engineering and other infrastructure professions, specifically practicing in Flint or New Orleans. I want to bring your input to the table, where people are welcoming and relying on your experience and expertise. It is time that we hear the voices of those who have been silenced in these professions, in the assurance that they will bring up the concerns of marginalized stakeholders.

A preview of the survey is available here-use this to see what questions are asked and to reduce any reluctance on the legitimacy of the survey. The survey company, Wyzerr, is minority owned and operated. It boasts of its use of smart-forms to make surveys more fun.

Here is the actual survey. Please pass on. As a member of the National Society of Black Engineers’ Detroit Professionals and a member of ASCE’s Southeast Michigan Branch Committee on Younger Members, I truly appreciate your support!

Amber Spears is working to make a more diverse and inclusive Infrastructure Workforce. She needs your help!

by Miesha Jihan time to read: 2 min