Atlanta, GA February 28, 2015
Professionally Prepared but Not Pioneer Prepared

This talk is informed from the presenter's experience as the first African-American female to earn tenure as an engineering professor in the College of Engineering at Purdue University. Earning tenure in 2011, she remains the only tenured African-American female engineering faculty member in the 146 year history of the university. When, at 29, she began her career as a professor, she had no idea how to navigate the academy as a Woman of Color (WOC). Although many people were not trying to be malicious, Cox found herself educating people who called her colored or mixed her up with the cleaning staff. With WOC representing only 5.7% of all science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) faculty at U.S. four-year colleges or universities, medical school, and university-affiliated research institutes, Cox has redefined what it means to be a WOC in engineering. Her accomplishments include garnering a presidential award (from President Barack Obama) for her research in engineering education, graduating 7 Ph.D. students (two that are working as academics at MIT and at Shanghai Jiao Tong University), garnering more than $10 million in research funding, and publishing more than 100 research publications. Cox will share how her experiences as a WOC in a male-dominated profession informed her work philosophy and motivated her to reinvent herself in an effort to help others who are not prepared formally to become pioneers in their work environments. In 2013, she founded her own company, STEMinent LLC, with a branch of the company (Prepared to Be a Pioneer™) focused on the professional development and empowerment of marginalized populations. Cox also took a five month sabbatical from her job to partner with an entrepreneur, to enter the tech field, and to develop a mobile application that aligns with her passion for connecting individuals to professional networks. Through her presentation of lessons learned, she will inform others how to implement strategies that will allow them to empower themselves and those who will come after them.