Atlanta, GA

Global companies eyes Atlanta University Center Consortium for skilled and diverse students

Sophie-Ann McCulloch

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Global companies seeking to establish a channel of skilled African Americans for positions within their companies are spotlighting the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) and its member institutions.

The companies have set their eyes on the AUCC Dual Degree Engineering Program (DDEP), which allows students at three AUCC member institutions — Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College — to study for two years and finish their education at one of 11 partner universities.

“It’s heartening to see so many companies have come to realize that the only way forward is to improve diversity and inclusion among their ranks,” said Said Sewell, director of academics, research and student success at the AUCC.

“In the past, we have heard that recruiters couldn’t find qualified candidates of color, or that they didn’t know where to look. That has changed, as executives understand that they can actually work with historically black colleges and universities to create pipelines of qualified candidates who are groomed to not only work for these companies but also take on leadership positions as they grow in knowledge and experience.”

According to Sewell, the first company to approach the AUC DDEP to propose a partnership was The Wood Group, PLC. The Wood Group is one of the world’s leading engineering and consultancy. The company offered three scholarships worth $5,000 each for students enrolled in the DDEP.

Carrier, a leading global provider of sustainable building and cold chain solutions, has offered four $25,000 scholarships to DDEP students as part of a multi-year gift.

Microsoft was also among the companies to reach out to the AUCC seeking African American talent to raise diversity and inclusion within their company.

“As we continue to expand our footprint in the Greater Atlanta area, the AUCC’s intensive engineering workshop was the perfect opportunity for Microsoft to contribute financially and give students access to Microsoft engineers to learn about career options post-graduation,” said Kory Hawkins, Microsoft University Relations lead.

While the gifts were more than welcome, Sewell and AUCC Executive Director Michael Hodge, along with other executives, saw this as an opportunity for more than scholarships. The group created a plan to include internships, networking opportunities, and training that would lead to future employment opportunities.

“Our strategic collaboration with AUCC demonstrates Carrier’s commitment to making measurable progress towards its diversity and inclusion goals including recruiting a more diverse workforce and developing and sponsoring talent,” said Chris Nelson, president, HVAC, Carrier. “This partnership is more than financial support. At Carrier, we’re building the best teams and recruiting the workforce of the future.”

Sewell reiterates that these collaborations would also serve to meet the country’s ever-growing need for engineers.

“These new partnerships between some of the world’s most innovative companies and the oldest dual-degree engineering program at a historically Black college or university bespeaks the firms’ commitment to social justice and to diversifying their workforces by employing AUCC DDEP graduates,” added Sewell. “But these transformational moments are also a positive step toward meeting America’s engineering demands.”

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