CMaT Participates in the #ShutDownSTEM Movement Spearheaded by AAAS

Achievement date: 

On June 10, 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT) Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Georgia Institute of Technology participated in the nationwide #ShutDownSTEM movement, with activities spearheaded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). As part of the day’s agenda, participants developed and hosted a Center-wide Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Training entitled, “Conversation that Motivates Allies to Take ACTION” (or “CMaT Training”).


Diversifying the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is a continuing challenge, despite programs and strategies aimed at addressing the shortage of women and minorities in STEM fields. By acting as mentors to other scientists in the community, CMaT’s highly inclusive, D&I-trained groups both leverage and further best practices that can be adapted to the recruitment, admission, and retention of underrepresented students—including gender and ethnic minorities, low-income students, and first-generation college students as well as subsequent cohorts of teachers and mentors.


#ShutDownSTEM invited researchers and scientists to pause their work for the day in order to create specific action plans for ending racism in scientific communities. By interrupting “business as usual” for the day, the students, faculty, and other scientists hoped to foster awareness that would help increase the representation, retention, and recruitment of Black scientists to academia and industry. A #shutdownSTEM website was developed to organize participating campuses. Gizmodo, New Scientist, and other media outlets covered the event.

The Center-wide CMaT D&I mentor training program was made available to all Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Research Experience and Mentoring (REM), and Research Experience for Teachers (RET) mentors at each of the four primary CMaT partner universities: Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia, the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Due to the pandemic, this mentor training program was made available virtually. Of CMaT’s 20 virtual REU participants, representation included students of whom 75% are female; 20% are African American; 30% are Hispanic; 1 is Native American; and 1 is a student with a disability. Of the Center’s 11 virtual REM students, 62.5% are women; 12.5% are Hispanic; 37.5% are African American; and 12.5% are students with a disability.