Professor recognized for inspiring women and minority students to become engineers
Andrew Williams, professor and John P. Raynor Distinguished Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering, was recognized as one of the 50 most Important African Americans in Technology by BlackMoney.com.
Williams has worked extensively in education, recruiting, retaining, and motivating underrepresented and female students to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in computing and engineering.
He started in 2012 at Marquette, where he is the director of the Humanoid Engineering and Intelligent Robotics Lab. His research is currently focused on innovative methods for utilizing robots and artificial intelligence to address childhood obesity.
Williams and the other 49 honorees will be recognized at the 13th annual Innovation and Equity Symposium in Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 4. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Keeping America First in Technology: Public Innovation and Supplier Diversity.” During the event, Williams will be part of a panel that discusses the best practices to improve diversity in the sciences and describe how to spread best practices to classrooms across the country, as well as how to get students to embrace careers in the STEM fields.
“Dr. Williams has been a beacon in the engineering field for more than a decade, advocating for and improving minority representation in engineering,” said Robert H. Bishop, Opus Dean of the Marquette College of Engineering. “Marquette is thrilled that he is continuing his outreach and research endeavors here in Milwaukee.”
Prior to Marquette, Williams was the chair of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Spelman College, a historically Black college for women in Atlanta. At Spelman he secured nearly $6 million of research and educational funding and served as the principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded project ARTSI (Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact), which encourages minority and underrepresented populations to study engineering and robotics.
“I started using robots early in my career because I saw it was a good teaching tool,” Williams said. “Particularly for students who historically don’t consider computing or engineering, robots help draw these students to these fields when they see how engineering can make a positive impact on social issues like obesity.”
Williams received his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Marquette. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas and returned to become the first African American to graduate from Kansas with a doctorate in electrical engineering.