Thought-provoking ideas highlight of diversity conference

Posted: November 1, 2021

The Ohio State University Center for Aviation Studies recently hosted its annual Global Conference on Diversity in Aviation, Aerospace and STEM. The gathering provided a safe space to share tools, resources and inspiration among members of industry and academia during its fourth convergence October 26-27, 2021.

A group of students talks with an industry recruiter.

“Now in its fourth year, we are so pleased to bring this conference back,” commented Conference Director Shannon McLoughlin Morrison, the center’s assistant director of academics and program assessment. “Each year I hear from participants that they enjoy the opportunity to learn and engage with experts in this field.”

The in-person and virtual gathering allowed both professional and student attendees to benefit from learning and networking opportunities. Over 100 attendees registered for the conference.

During the two-day event, attendees learned best practices for enhancing diversity initiatives from industry and academic leaders. Presentation topics included capitalizing on diverse and inclusive teams, navigating classroom and workplace climate, and applying research findings to improve student experience. In addition, the gathering provided a forum for the exchange of diversity-related success stories.

Keynote presenter Carole Hopson, celebrated first officer at United Airlines and author of A Pair of Wings: A Novel Inspired by Pioneer Aviatrix Bessie Coleman, shared the account of her journey to become an airline pilot, leaving a thriving career to pursue flight training while raising her family, then finally earning her professional pilot wings at age 54.

Hopson emphasized the importance of not only perseverance, but also identifying career aspirations. “We become accustomed to the environment we choose,” she noted.

Three women are seated at a table, and one woman is speaking into a microphone.
Olga Custodio speaks during the conference panel discussion.

The second day of the conference began with a panel discussion – Women Who Lead in STEM – featuring high-achieving retired U.S Air Force pilot Olga Custodio, NASA Program Manager Lisa Morgan-Watson, and College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard. The candid conversation allowed each to share advice and lessons learned from successful careers in STEM fields.

Custodio’s advice? “Where there’s a will, there’s power.”

Morrison was enthusiastic about the event’s success and anticipates expanding next year’s gathering. “We hope to continue to bring this conference back for students, staff, and faculty annually as these are important topics to engage with.”

More information regarding the 2022 Global Conference on Diversity in Aviation, Aerospace and STEM will be released in the coming months.

Categories: DiversityStudents