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Inclusion and Belonging

Building a Stronger Future Together, for Everyone

Group of students at construction site in safety gear

At the Myers-Lawson School of Construction (MLSoC), we view Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as a set of principles that will help us recruit and retain more high quality students. Ultimately, more high quality students become more high quality construction professionals, which is sorely needed today in construction. 

We recognize the value of diversity in thought, experience, and background but also the challenges that diversity creates. Therefore, we are committed to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders.

Principles in Action

MLSoC Guiding Principles

  • That we may serve our students first.
  • That we may serve our students, faculty, and staff by building an inclusive family culture within MLSoC.
  • That we may serve and shape the Industry through engagement and outreach.
  • That we may serve our constituent's safety, health, and equitable well-being.
  • That we may serve the future through transdisciplinary discovery and innovation.

Principles in Action

  • Undergraduate, graduate, and faculty mentorship programs
  • Industry-sponsored research on inclusion and belonging in construction
  • International service learning experiences
  • Scholarships for highly-qualified students from underrepresented and underserved communities
  • Student organizations that support inclusion and belonging
  • Career fairs and social events that build academic, social, and professional community

By the Numbers

MLSoC works to improve the diversity of its student body to expand the existing talent pipeline for the industry. Construction needs more engineers and managers, and we are looking to underrepresented and underserved communities to help fill this employment gap. 

How we work to close the employment gap through DEI:


Female faculty (2023)

MLSoC targets women with our recruiting efforts to attract potential mentors for our female students. We know that mentors improve a student’s chance of success in college.


Female students (2023)

Student organizations such as Building Women in Construction and Appalachian Service Project provide opportunities for students to find a second home in MLSoC.


Female construction managers (2023)

Our work with DEI helps ensure the success of female students, who go onto become successful construction professionals. As more women enter construction programs nationwide, we expect to see the employment gap shrink.

Over time, the percentage of women in construction will grow, which will help close the employment gap. We have a lot of models and potential mentors for female students.

Current Demographic statistics for the construction industry are available through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Current demographic statistics for MLSoC are available through the University Data Commons.

Support and Resources

There are a wide variety of resources available to MLSoC students, faculty, and staff to support inclusion and belonging while at Virginia Tech.


A student sitting at a table wearing a maroon-and-white-striped long sleeve shirt

Ambassador Program

MLSoC Ambassadors are some of the first people to welcome new students and their families to the MLSoC. Ambassadors lead orientation activities and serve as very good peer points-of-contact for students interested in supporting inclusion and belonging.

A young woman wearing a hard hat smiling in front of a blue wooden structure.

Building Women in Construction (BWIC)

BWIC is a student organization that works to support women’s issues in the construction industry, particularly as they relate to the experiences of current students. BWIC encourages membership by all genders and gender identities.

A committee poses for a photo while sitting at a table.

DEI Committee

The MLSoC DEI Committee is responsible for planning and execution of work that supports inclusion and belonging in the MLSoC. The committee partners regularly with industry to ensure that our work is impactful today and relevant in the future. The committee is composed of faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students. The committee is advised by a roundtable of experienced industry executives who hold responsibilities related to DEI in construction. A call for participation is sent to all at the beginning of each semester.

group of students in construction attire on top of building

Mentorship Programs

MLSoC mentorship programs match MLSoC students with industry mentors and MLSoC faculty with more experienced professors. The purpose of these programs is to support early and sustained academic and career success. Mentors provide personal and professional support to help improve inclusion and belonging. Students and faculty are informed of mentorship opportunities through periodic email announcements.


The College of Engineering offers a peer mentoring program through the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) in which third and fourth-year students mentor first and second-year students. The Peer Mentoring program provides academic and social support for students as they transition to college.

The Cultural and Community Centers at VT advocate for a safe, inclusive environment and to advise students as they navigate life at VT. Through programming and events, they raise cultural awareness and invite the community to learn about and develop an appreciation for cultural differences.

A variety of in-person and virtual training workshops and courses are available to faculty, staff and students through InclusiveVT.

Policies and Procedures

The MLSoC DEI Committee is responsible for setting and achieving annual strategic goals. 

The 2022-2023 goals are as follows:

  • Increase enrollment by underrepresented and underserved students.
  • Increase the number of underrepresented and underserved faculty and staff.
  • Host at least one community-building activity each month.
  • Identify new funding streams earmarked for DEI.
  • Track DEI performance.

The goals are reviewed annually by the full DEI Committee with input from the MLSoC Leadership Team and leadership within the College of Engineering.

If you have concerns related to inclusion and belonging in MLSoC, first consult with your academic or research advisor, or your work supervisor as appropriate and as you are comfortable.

Alternatively, we encourage you to directly contact a member of the DEI Committee or a member of the MLSoC Leadership Team to discuss your concerns.

University sponsored resources are also available through InclusiveVT.

University resources are available through the Office for Equity and Accessibility (OEA) which promotes a learning and working environment for students and employees that is free from harassment and discrimination.

OEA provides resources and support for the following:

Collaboration and Partnerships

The Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) within MLSoC  partners with industry as well as local, state, and national organizations to improve housing affordability and accessibility. 

MLSoC Faculty regularly participate in the Virginia Tech Graduate School’s HBCU/MSI Research Summit to support networking, program development, and research related to equity and accessibility. 

MLSoC’s work toward improving inclusion and belonging is supported by an industry roundtable that meets annually. The roundtable is composed of representatives who have responsibility for DEI within their organizations. The roundtable aligns the work related to DEI in MLSoC with current industry practice. 

MLSoC offers the following scholarships on behalf of industry donors. The scholarships target highly qualified underrepresented and underserved students who have substantial financial need. These scholarships help to expand the construction industry talent pipeline.  

  • Clark
  • Fluor
  • Norman Hill/Electrical Alliance
  • Access/Wells

MLSoC partners with NAMC to bring minority perspectives into the classroom through guest lectures and development of learning modules.

Get Involved

We encourage everyone to take an active role in promoting inclusion and belonging within MLSoC, at Virginia Tech, in your home communities and in the construction industry.

Committees and Programs

We encourage you all to get engaged and work toward building welcoming communities, whether through participation in the MLSoC DEI Committee or through VT Engage programs, including:

Full ASC team photo on the steps of Bishop Favro Hall

Student Organizations

You can also join student organizations focused specifically on construction and engineering, including:

  • Appalachian Service Project (ASP)
  • Building Women in Construction (BWIC)
  • Construction Management Association of America (CMAA)
  • Habitat for Humanity (Habitat)
  • National Society of Black Engineers at VT (NSBE)
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at VT (SHPE)
  • Society of Women Engineers at VT (SWE)

Committee and Contact Information

The MLSoC DEI Committee is composed of a leadership group in addition to faculty, staff, and students who join subcommittees that perform specific functions, from conducting research on DEI to summer outreach activities. 

To join the MLSoC DEI Committee or for questions about work related to DEI in MLSoC, contact Josh Iorio (

MLSoC DEI Committee Leadership

Josh Iorio - Committee Chair
Ashley Williamson - Committee Co-Chair
Sharon Williams - Outreach Subcommittee Chair
Ali Shojaei - Research Subcommittee Chair

Women in Industry: Kim Roy

Kim Roy '99 is making her mark in the construction industry where she serves as the chief executive officer for HITT Contracting.

Kim Roy headshot


MLSoC hosts a number of events throughout the year that encourage students, faculty and staff to get to know one another in an informal, welcoming atmosphere. MLSoC also sponsors Topical Seminars for faculty, staff and students to improve awareness of issues related to DEI.

Group of students going up stairs during cookout


Cookouts are held twice each semester in the lawn outside of Bishop-Favrao Hall. The cookouts serve to provide an informal setting where students can meet new people or catch up with old friends.

Students at social event around pool

Graduate Welcome (Back) Social

Each year, Building Construction and Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management graduate students are invited to the home of a faculty member to welcome new students and catch up with friends. The social is open to current and past graduate students, faculty, staff, and their families.

students during hardhatting ceremony

Hardhatting Ceremony

The Hardhatting ceremony provides an opportunity each semester to recognize each graduate and their families in a more personal setting. A social event follows where faculty, staff, and students can mingle with student families.

Students in room during a seminar

Topical Seminars

Seminars are hosted periodically by student organizations or by subcommittees of the MLSoC DEI Committee. Seminar topics have addressed womens and minority issues in the construction industry, small business enterprises, and holding difficult conversations.