POETS Director Lauded for Spurring Dramatic Gender Shift at His Engineering Department

Achievement date: 

A dramatic increase in women studying and teaching engineering earned an award from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for the director of the NSF-funded Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), an NSF-funded ERC based at the University of Illinois.


The 2017 Advocating for Women in Engineering Award to Andrew Alleyne, POETS director, recognized his contribution to the dramatic shift in the gender composition at his MechSE department and in the wider College of Engineering.  Besides spurring changes in the college’s culture through its recruitment process, Alleyne serves as mentor to a number of female faculty members to help ensure their success.


Alleyne joined the college’s faculty in 2004 and served on the MechSE Faculty Recruiting Committee for most of 2006-20014, usually as its chair. In the year prior to his assuming the leadership of the committee, men constituted 92 percent of the faculty in MechSE. Today, nearly 25 percent of the faculty in that department are women. Similarly, the number of female students has jumped from 12 percent in MechSE in 2008 to 28 percent in 2016.

In explaining Alleyne’s role in helping the college’s shift, Andreas Cangellaris, Dean of the College of Engineering, said, “He believed that we could change the culture through the hiring process and, at the same time, maintain, and in fact improve, the quality of our faculty. He was right.”

Alleyne is also a frequent invited speaker at other institutions, where he advocates for methods to increase numbers of female faculty and students in STEM related fields.