Cordelia Ontiveros, interim associate vice president for Faculty Affairs and Monica Palomo, associate professor for civil engineering, received the 2017 Inspiring Leaders in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity, the largest and longest-running diversity magazine and website in higher education.
The publication awarded Ontiveros and Palomo for their outreach to and retention efforts of underrepresented groups in STEM. The awardees have worked alongside each other on a variety of outreach efforts, including Cal Poly Pomona’s Women in Engineering Program, which promotes a close community for female engineering students and faculty through proactive recruitment and retention activities. Since the establishment of the program, College of Engineering female undergraduate enrollment has increased from 13 percent to 20 percent.
Separately, Ontiveros and Palomo have led other outreach efforts. Ontiveros leads the college’s partnership with the national organization Project Lead the Way (PLTW). PLTW aims to encourage STEM interest in K-12 students by partnering with participating schools to provide hands-on STEM curriculum. The College of Engineering provides training for hundreds of K-12 teachers every summer. Since the beginning of the partnership in 2008, more than 1,700 teachers have been trained at Cal Poly Pomona. The number of schools offering PLTW in the communities surrounding Cal Poly Pomona (many of which serve low income and historically underrepresented populations) has increased from 40 to nearly 600.
Palomo was the co-principal investigator of a National Science Foundation International Research Experiences for Students program that focused on sustainable sanitation and provided an opportunity for Hispanic and first-generation undergraduates to study water recovery in South Africa. Palomo also spearheaded collaborative sustainability projects between the Cal Poly Pomona civil engineering department and Pasadena City College (PCC), resulting in an increase in PCC students transferring to Cal Poly Pomona and continuing to work on STEM research projects.