Latino Engineering Faculty in the U.S.: A Personal Perspective and Journey

Olivia Graeve
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Room 1242, CSE Building
Olivia Graeve
University of California San Diego, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Director, JSOE Idea Center


This talk will compare a variety of demographic characteristics of Latino faculty in engineering at U.S. universities, including academic rank, gender, geographical distribution across the 50 U.S. states, and country of origin. The total population of Latino engineering faculty is approximately 587, with 485 men (83%) and 102 women (17%). Of this total, we find that about 86% are immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America, with Mexico contributing the greatest number (25.9%, N Mexico = 152). We propose that efforts must be made to increase the ranks of U.S. born Latino engineering faculty in higher education, as the current number is a mere 48, a problem that has its roots in the extreme lack of pipeline of Hispanic Americans into doctoral programs and the professoriate. The consequences of ignoring this issue results in a lack of role models for our U.S. born Latino youth, who look for examples of successes in academia from among the people they "grew up with". A personal journey and perspectives on this issue will also be discussed.  


Olivia A. Graeve received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Davis, in 2001 and her bachelor’s in Structural Engineering from UC San Diego in 1995. She was an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and an associate professor at Alfred University prior to her appointment at UC San Diego. Professor Graeve has received several prestigious awards including the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2007, the American Ceramic Society’s 2010 Karl Schwartzwalder Professional Achievement in Ceramic Engineering Award, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers 2011 Jaime Oaxaca Award (the highest honor given by the Society) for her outstanding work towards the recruitment and retention of Hispanics into graduate programs and the professoriate. Professor Graeve has also been nationally recognized as an excellent teacher and mentor in the form of the 2006 Hispanic Educator of the Year award by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). She is currently the President of the National Institute of Ceramic Engineers (2012-13) and the Chair of SHPE’s Graduate Programs (2009-13).