Increased support (e.g., research funding, mentoring, professional development opportunities, recognition of significant scholarly accomplishments) is needed for minorities interested in and currently working in academic faculty or Ph.D.-level research careers. The numbers of underrepresented minority engineers as faculty and Ph.D. researchers has increased at a much slower rate than the growth of minority engineers with bachelors and masters degrees. Recently, the National Academies and National Science Foundation of the United States of America identified a strong national need to increase the number of underrepresented minority engineers with Ph.D. degrees and in the ranks of academia. Increasing the number of minority engineering faculty at our universities is especially important for ensuring students have sufficient role models and the support they need to be successful throughout the entire educational pipeline – from pre-college to Ph.D. Federal funding for scholarships and research opportunities that target underrepresented groups are usually written and supported by minority faculty. Therefore, an increased number of minority engineers in leadership positions in academia, industry, and government labs, will increase the opportunities that are available for students of color.
The ARL Network grew from a meeting Drs. Samuel Graham, Baratunde Cola, and Raheem Beyah of Georgia Institute of Technology had on October 12, 2012 to discuss ideas for improving networking among underrepresented minority faculty at a local and national level. These ideas were discussed with friends and colleagues and evolved with the input of several active leaders in this domain into a white paper. This white paper laid the foundation for the ARL Network and annual symposium co-located with the annual convention of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).