Monique Earl (Courtesy photo)

The LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners has approved an agreement with Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) to help achieve diversity in the engineering workforce. AMIE, a nonprofit organization that develops industry, government and university partnerships, will coordinate technical and scientific research on behalf of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) with the 15 Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Schools of Engineering.

The universities are: Alabama A&M University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University of the District of Columbia and Virginia State University.

The agreement will allow LADWP to partner with AMIE and HBCUs on research projects to meet required city and state mandates as well as to strengthen the Department’s relationships with HBCUs. The agreement is for five years, for an amount not to exceed $5 million.

“LADWP has incredibly challenging goals ahead of us, and guaranteeing that we have consistent access to high quality scientific research is an essential part of staying on target,” said Board of Water and Power Commission President Cynthia McClain-Hill. “I am thrilled that the Department has chosen to align with AMIE and these nationally recognized research institutions that also have a strong tradition of empowering African Americans who were historically excluded from higher education opportunities. As LADWP looks to become a more inclusive organization, this is a significant partnership.”

Topics for potential technical and research projects include commercial stormwater capture potential analysis, microgrid and energy storage system assessment, and economic and job analysis of LADWP’s energy efficiency programs. The findings resulting from the research will help LADWP meet technical water and energy goals and additional mandates relating to promoting water conservation; enhance water recycling and climate adaptation planning; develop energy efficiency programs; electrify the transportation network; promote local solar; and improve workforce engagement.

“This initiative is an example of what the Department’s development of a Racial Equity Action Plan and the creation of an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are meant to do—to create opportunities where there may not have been before,” said Martin L. Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “This partnership with AMIE to engage HBCUs at the research level will also further strengthen our ability at LADWP to attract top talent from the nationally recognized programs for future employment at LADWP.”

“As LADWP attracts top scientific talent for our next generation, we must also keep equity in mind to ensure we are reaching potential candidates who may not have been traditionally represented in our ranks and in the utility industry,” said Monique Earl, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. “Refocusing our recruitment programs to engage with HBCUs and other educational institutions championing diversity is key to creating robust pathways to employment for underrepresented groups and ultimately transforming our workplace to a more inclusive one.”

Cynthia McClain-Hill (Courtesy photo)

In addition to collaboration on research projects, the Department will work closely with the schools’ research faculty and curriculum developers to enhance training on the diverse set of fields required to manage Los Angeles’ water and power systems.

“AMIE is honored to participate in this historic partnership agreement with LADWP. This unique research partnership recognizes the significant value and impact of collaborating with the HBCU Schools of Engineering. This partnership will help address LADWP’s business needs as well as their goal to continue to develop a diverse workforce,” said Veronica L. Nelson, AMIE Executive Director.

The research partnership was developed based on recommendations from LADWP’s Racial Equity Action Plan, published in 2021, a comprehensive racial equity study with the goal of strengthening the workforce, supplier diversity, economic development and community engagement, and Equal Employment Opportunity programs.