In this episode, I talk to Kevin Brown Jr., P.E., a construction manager at Urban Engineers, about how outreach and mentorship can lead to a more diverse industry. He also discusses some of the challenges faced when connecting with youth in communities, and provides some great advice for engineers who would be interested in serving as a mentor.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Kevin About Outreach and Mentorship:
- What can civil engineers do to prepare themselves for work on construction sites?
- Why is it important for engineers to reach out to underrepresented communities?
- What are some of the challenges you have faced when connecting with the youth in communities?
- Why is the representation of diverse groups important?
- What advice would you want to give to someone who would be interested in serving as a mentor?
- How can engineers incorporate corporate DEI plans in the workplace?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Outreach and Mentorship:
- Civil engineers need to reach out to underrepresented communities to help diversify the workforce. The civil engineering industry is not as diverse as other industries. Reaching out to underrepresented communities that have untapped talent will create a diverse pool of talent that companies can hire from in the future.
- Finding time to connect with underrepresented communities is a challenge for everyone. If everyone dedicated one hour a year to connect with them, it would make a huge difference. It is more difficult for seasoned engineers to connect with the youth. You must soften your approach by wearing more casual clothing and remembering how you felt when you were their age. Use stories from your youth to connect with them. Be more vulnerable by telling them a story about a mistake you made. If you cannot connect with the group, find someone in your network who can.
- The representation of diverse groups is important because when the civil engineering industry becomes more diverse, more students will believe that engineering is a possibility for their future. Having representation from the communities where our engineering projects are located will help us to work with these communities. Having people from the communities share how the infrastructure is being used will help with better ways to design more efficiently.
- To be a mentor in underrepresented communities, you must be excited about helping people, be open to sharing advice, but still take time to listen. Listen intensively to the person you are mentoring. Always keep one’s background and current life circumstances in mind when giving advice.
How to Incorporate Corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plans in the Workplace
- Educate your company on why DEI plans are important.
- Support your employees who want to go out into the community and reach out to a diverse group of youths.
- DEI plans must be voluntary and not forced on anyone.
- Consider creating a committee that is focused on creating diversity.
More Details in This Episode…
About Kevin Brown Jr., P.E.
Kevin Brown, a licensed professional engineer in PA, NJ, and DE, grew up in West Philadelphia and graduated from George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science in North Philadelphia. He graduated from Widener University with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2009 and obtained his master’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2014 from Widener University. Kevin has been in the construction services department at Urban Engineers for almost 13 years, serving in various roles including highway construction inspector, construction inspection manager, construction manager, and resident engineer.
He mentors for the ACE Mentor Program and was a student of the same program when he was in high school. Kevin is heavily involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers both locally and nationally. In addition to ASCE, he is the Vice President of the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia and is involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, the American Society of Highway Engineers, and the Construction Management Association of America. He was named the 2017 Young Philadelphia Civil Engineer of the Year by the Philadelphia Section of ASCE and the 2021 Delaware Valley Engineers Week Young Engineer of the Year.
Books Mentioned in This Episode:
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We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on how outreach and mentorship can lead to a more diverse engineering industry.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success