Inclusion and Belonging
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AT VIRGINIA TECH
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
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.
- Norman Hill/Electrical Alliance
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.
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 (email@example.com).
MLSoC DEI Committee Leadership
Josh Iorio - Committee Chair
Ashley Williamson - Committee Co-Chair
Sharon Williams - Outreach Subcommittee Chair
Ali Shojaei - Research Subcommittee Chair
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.