Julie Zhao receives national award for service


Dr. Julie Zhao has been named the 2013 Outstanding Minority Engineering Program Administrator Award recipient by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA).

Dr. Julie Zhao

Zhao will be recognized at the 34th Annual NAMEPA National Conference in West Lafayette, Ind., at the closing Awards Gala on Friday, Feb. 8. The NAMEPA Outstanding Minority Engineering Program Administrator Award was established to honor members that have made exceptional contributions in precollege enrichment, recruitment, leadership and retention.

In her role as director of the Increasing Diversity in Engineering Academics (IDEAs) Program for the College of Engineering at The University of Akron, Zhao's efforts have led to a rise in enrollment, retention and graduation of African-American, Hispanic and Native American students in engineering majors.

Since joining UA in 2006, Zhao has contributed to the following successes:          

  • 113 percent increase in enrollment in the IDEAs program
  • A first-year retention rate for IDEAs students of approximately 80 percent
  • An overall graduation rate of IDEAs students of 54 percent, which is slightly higher than the nation’s average for minority students according to the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)
  • A 182 percent increase in the total scholarship dollars awarded to minority engineering students

Learn More:

Visit the IDEAs program online

Additionally, Zhao has improved the IDEAs program by adding innovative programs, including the Project "A" Competition and service-learning projects for freshman minority engineering students. Through her leadership, more minority students are also participating in undergraduate research, which has contributed to an increased interest in graduate studies.

"Everything Julie touches turns to gold," says Dr. George K. Haritos, dean of the College of Engineering. "She routinely and consistently exceeds the highest expectations. The retention and graduation rates of the IDEAs Program continue to rise."

National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates

NAMEPA is a national network of educators and representatives from industry, government and nonprofit organizations who share a common commitment to improving the recruitment and retention of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans earning degrees in engineering. As a recognized authority in minority engineering education, NAMEPA promotes the professional development of its members and serves as an advocate for and resource to those programs and organizations that seek to recruit, educate and employ diverse engineering talent.

Learn more by visiting the NAMEPA online.

Media contacts: Sarah Steidl, 330-972-8142 or steidl@uakron.edu, or Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@uakron.edu.