Research about community engagement in engineering is increasing, and community engagement opportunities for engineering students are growing. Yet voices of diverse publics speaking to their own experiences with engineers and their own definitions of "ethical" and "beneficial" community engagement have continued to be starkly absent from the profession’s conceptualizations of working for and with communities.
This panel is based on the premise that the engineering profession’s general inattention to community voices can have severe and adverse impacts on how engineers approach community engagement and, ultimately, what effect engineers have on the communities with which they engage. If engineers lack a platform that highlights community voices, a mindset that supports engineers to listen to those voices, and a toolkit that allows engineers to refine their practice on the basis of those voices, they are left vulnerable to carrying out interventions that the very publics they aim to serve deem inadequate, inappropriate, or even harmful.
This panel will feature five frontline community members from Buffalo, N.Y.; Flint, Mich.; Isle de Jean Charles, La.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Tampa, Fla. who will highlight their on-the-ground experiences with engineers and share their insights into types of community engagement they deem desirable and morally sound.
The panel’s goal is twofold. First, to bring together engineers and members of diverse publics in order to highlight the promise of ongoing conversations, information sharing, and equitable partnerships. And second, to launch a long-overdue national conversation about community rights during community engagement projects including, for example, the right to autonomy, self-determination, and interventions that communities experience as just.
Sydney Brown is a humble servant of the Most High God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A community activist and Board Member of: the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York (CACWNY); the Black Chamber of Commerce of WNY (BCCWNY); and the Restore Our Community Coalition (ROCC). She is helping to address economic, social, environmental, and health injustices by raising community awareness and building community empowerment.
E. Yvonne Lewis is a leader in developing and implementing community/academic partnerships, both as founder and CEO of the National Center for African American Health Consciousness and as co-director of the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center uniting Michigan State University and the University of Michigan with Flint residents in addressing the Flint Water Crisis.
Robert Miranda is spokesperson for the Milwaukee-based non-profit organization Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC), which has been spearheading efforts to achieve policy changes in the Milwaukee Health Department, ensure the full replacement of lead service lines, and improve the local water utility's approach to lead in drinking water.
Chief Albert P. Naquin is the Traditional Chief of the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, located in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. A strong advocate for his people and homeland, he has represented his Tribe on numerous occasions at the State, Federal and National level including a visit to the United Nations in 2010. He is a Vietnam veteran and Ambassador for the Native Americans of the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
Lena Young-Green is the founder of Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association and a longtime community activist working for equitable and safe transportation. She worked as senior legislative assistant in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. Her group led opposition to the Florida Department of Transportation’s plans for widening of Interstates and was able to force changes to the Tampa Bay Express (TBX) plans.