The board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has approved a $5 million research partnership aimed at increasing diversity in the engineering workforce, the utility announced Thursday.
The partnership, which was developed based on recommendations from the DWP’s 2021 Racial Equity Action Plan, was signed between the utility and Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering, a nonprofit that develops industry, government and university partnerships. AMIE will coordinate research efforts on behalf of the DWP with 15 Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ schools of engineering.
“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,” Board of Water and Power Commission President Cynthia McClain-Hill said.
“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,” she added.
The city will partner with HBCUs on research projects for five years and for an amount not to exceed $5 million. Potential projects include commercial stormwater capture potential analysis, microgrid and energy storage system assessment, and economic and job analysis of the department’s energy efficiency programs, according to the DWP.
“This partnership will help address LADWP’s business needs as well as their goal to continue to develop a diverse workforce,” AMIE Executive Director Veronica Nelson said.
Benefits for the utility include helping the department meet its water and energy goals and water conservation mandates, enhance water recycling and climate adaption planning, develop energy efficiency programs, electrify its transportation network, promote solar energy and improve workforce engagement, according to the department.
“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,” DWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin Adams said. “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.”
Participating 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 DWP said the partnership will also include working with the schools’ research faculty and those who develop curriculum to enhance training in the fields that help prepare professionals to manage L.A.’s water and power systems.