On Nov. 9, 170 students and their families, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters gathered at Boulders Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery to celebrate the BOLD Center’s 10th anniversary. Created in 2008, the BOLD Center continues to lead the nation’s engineering programs supporting women and minorities in engineering.
When it launched, the BOLD Center was testing out a new concept. The women and minority serving engineering programs had previously been separate entities, but CU Engineering combined its two programs under the umbrella of BOLD -- the Broadening Opportunity and Leadership Development Center. The Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) at CU Boulder launched in 1973 and the Women in Engineering Program (MIEP) was created in 1988.“Some of our students used to have to choose between belonging to MEP or WIEP, or they would have to split their time in two places,” said Dr. Beverly Louie, former director of WIEP. “BOLD solved that. In the BOLD Center our students can embrace all of their identities as whole individuals."
The celebration’s keynote speakers included alumna Massiel Puentes Reyes (ChemBioEngr’16) and student Jasmine Gamboa, who is studying environmental engineering and anticipates graduating in 2020. Both speakers shared how their experiences in engineering are allowing them to pursue their dreams and, coincidentally, encourage younger girls to consider engineering.
Reyes, who is Latina and identifies as a first-generation college student, is currently a reservoir engineer for Encana. She recounted a grade school teacher who doubted the likelihood of her being successful in college, “which only lit the fire to succeed.” Her experience at CU Engineering and with the BOLD Center taught her that “any obstacle you face, if you want it, you can achieve it.”
Last month, Encana sent Reyes to Texas to meet with 30 middle school girls in a STEM Gem club in the Midland Independent School District. Many of the girls she met are first-generation Americans or would be first-generation college students. Some of them are already teen parents. In sharing her personal journey through CU Engineering, she drove home the message, “if I can do it; you can do it.”
Gamboa, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who met in Cheyenne, was born in Wyoming. The family moved to Colorado when Gamboa was three years old because her father was transferred here for work by Union Pacific.
“Growing up, the only engineers I knew were train engineers who worked at Union Pacific. But, I’ve always been worried about the big things, too big: polar bears dying, ice caps melting and greenhouse gases,” Gamboa said.
With the support of a middle school teacher and high school program, Gamboa landed herself in a new engineering program at Brighton High School. For four years, she was the only girl in her 35-person classes. While she excelled in that environment, she was worried about being a first-generation, female, Latina student at CU Engineering. When she learned about the BOLD Center and GoldShirt program a lot of her nervousness subsided. “I didn’t know that there was a diversity program that wanted me to succeed,” she said. And succeed she has.
Gamboa is a GoldShirt Scholar, a lead tutor in the college’s Student Success Center, a communications assistant and she regularly leads workshops that explore water filtration and bridge building for grade school and high school visitors.
The BOLD Center is celebrating 10 years as a new umbrella organization, but CU Engineering has been supporting diversity in engineering for nearly half of a century.
“Diversity is critical to engineering and innovation and we’re standing behind that by ensuring diverse engineers enter the workforce or continue on to teaching and research,” said Sarah Miller, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion. “We’re graduating engineers who represent the state of Colorado and engineers prepared to change the world.”
Maria Kuntz is the assistant director for communications, inclusion and community in the College of Engineering & Applied Science.