WE@UCLA Director Honored for Campus Diversity Efforts

Audrey O'Neal

UCLA Samueli
Audrey Pool O’Neal

Aug 11, 2021

UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Audrey Pool O’Neal, an adjunct associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the founding director of UCLA Women in Engineering (WE@UCLA), has received the UCLA Academic Senate’s 2020-2021 Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award.

Launched in 2017, WE@UCLA is dedicated to the full participation, success and advancement of women in engineering and computer science. The program, which is open to all UCLA Samueli School of Engineering students, promotes an environment that enhances the personal and professional development of women. Through its recruitment and retention efforts, WE@UCLA provides research opportunities and resources to develop self-efficacy and leadership skills, facilitating industry networking and a rewarding career path after graduation.

“I am delighted that Audrey has been recognized for her ongoing efforts in fostering a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community at UCLA Samueli,” said Jayathi Murthy.

“I am delighted that Audrey has been recognized for her ongoing efforts in fostering a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community at UCLA Samueli,” said Jayathi Murthy, Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of Engineering, who established WE@UCLA shortly after she became dean in 2016. “The school has seen a steady increase in the percentage of women in our undergraduate population since we started the program, and this fall we will have a record high of more than 35% in our freshman class. These encouraging numbers are due in large part to the efforts of WE@UCLA and Audrey’s leadership.”

O’Neal also helped create the Awareness to Action (A2A) engineering inclusion initiative — a two-part, three-hour, interactive multimedia workshop taught in three different engineering courses. The curriculum includes lectures, videos, small group exercises and role-playing to demonstrate the need for inclusion in engineering and computer science. The initiative is designed to help students practice courageous conversations and become more aware of some of the challenges faced by those who are underrepresented in these fields.

In addition to directing WE@UCLA, O’Neal also teaches classes and conducts research in multifunctional nanocomposite materials. Prior to spearheading WE@UCLA, O’Neal was the associate director of undergraduate programs for the UCLA Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED).

O’Neal received a Ph.D. and M.S. from UCLA in mechanical engineering. She also holds an M.S. in engineering science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the GMI Engineering and Management Institute in Flint, Michigan. She worked at the Powertrain Division of General Motors Corporation for 15 years as an engineer and a manager in automatic transmission design and manufacturing.

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