Diverse group of KU students

Our IHAWKe (Indigenous, Hispanic, African American, Women, KU Engineering) students are seeking to use AI to help people with dementia and their caregivers. Some of these students have grandparents that have suffered from this illness and know firsthand the pain it can cause and are determined to use AI and machine learning to transform how people around the world experience dementia for the better.

KUEST students group photo

Last week at the National Society of Black Engineerings (NSBE) 2019 National Convention in Detroit, according to Karl Reid, NSBE Executive Director, there were over 15,000 participants.

KU Student gives engineering demo

What if students from underresourced schools with diverse populations saw themselves as technology creators and inventors?  Last week we invited 24 sophomore students from Kansas City, Kansas Schlagle High School to participate in our KUEST 10 program for a hands-on experience in computer programming and design thinking for community needs. These students had participated in our KUEST 9 program last year with about 280 other high school students.


Dr Williams speaks at the National Academy of Engineering’s Global Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP)

This past month, I was able to speak at the National Academy of Engineering’s Global Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) on how our IHAWKe Diversity & Women’s Programs are using hackathons, or IHAWKe-a-Thons, to innovate for Hurricane victims and also for helping workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the workplace.

KUEST students group photo

“I want you to now design an app that will meet the community needs you identified.” When I shared that to the group of around 160 ninth graders from Kansas City Kansas Schlagle High School, I could see it in their eyes. “You want ME, to design this app?” The boys and girls began to straighten up in their chairs. The looks in their eyes had looks of expectation and curiosity. I wondered how many of them pictured themselves as creators of technology before I gave them the opportunity to do so in a low-fidelity app prototype design exercise.

IHAWKe group photo

Diversity inspires innovation. Our IHAWKe engineering students spent this weekend discovering the needs of workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and created solution prototypes to meet the needs, thanks to the support of IBM Analytics in Leawood, Kansas. They spent time creating empathy maps and observations from workers at Cottonwood Industries, a place that employs persons with IDD.

Knowledge is Power Especially When Shared

This week, our IHAWKe students were able to visit high school students at a KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) school in Houston,Texas, as part of our Tiny Homes for the Hurricane Homeless project.  It was especially meaningful for Rajanee, one of our NSBE students, since she attended a KIPP middle school in Kansas City, Missouri and is now studying mechanical engineering at KU. Rajanee is able to attend KU because of a generous KU engineering alum’s establishment of a KIPP scholarship for our School of Engineering.

tiny homes 1

On Friday and Saturday, February 9-10, IHAWKe students used human-centered engineering to create a full scale, low-fidelity prototype of a low-cost, sustainable tiny home for hurricane victims. The students formed interdisciplinary KU engineering teams form to ideate and prototype a concept tiny home that can be used to help restore lives, infrastructure, clean water, energy and housing after a Category 5 hurricane.  IHAWKe students are continuing to design and build on these ideas and are raising funds to visit hurricane ravaged sites in Houston, Texas or San Juan, Puerto Rico.