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Aaron Kyle Named Director of Duke BME DEI
May 4, 2023 | Michaela Martinez
Kyle aims to expand and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts both inside and outside of Duke BME
Aaron Kyle, a professor of the practice in Duke University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been named the Director of Duke BME’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program. In his new role, Kyle will work closely with Duke BME’s DEI Committee to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusivity into all aspects of the department, especially Duke BME’s educational curriculum, research pursuits and outreach programs.
“My primary goal as Director of this important program is to be intentional in our integration of DEI consideration into our research, education, and service activities in Duke BME,” says Kyle. “I also hope to show that DEI considerations are not burdensome or controversial, but instead will enhance our engineering.”
Prior to his arrival at Duke, Kyle was a senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, where he specialized in improving engineering education for students of all levels. At Duke, Kyle has used this expertise to help grow and improve Duke Engineering’s signature First-Year Design Program and Duke BME’s senior design and bioinstrumentation courses.
Kyle plans to expand on this work with the support of the BME DEI Committee to develop curricular tools for the integration of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice considerations into engineering education. According to Kyle, incorporating DEI work into an engineering curriculum is essential to ensuring that Duke BME continues to produce thoughtful and well-rounded leaders in engineering who can solve pressing biomedical issues that positively impact diverse communities, both locally and globally.
His work as BME DEI director will extend beyond the department, as he’ll also coordinate and work with the Pratt School of Engineering’s established Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community efforts, led by Karis Boyd-Sinkler, Quiana Tyson, and the Pratt DEIC Committee BME Liaison Cameron Kim.
“As we continue to strive to provide a sense of belonging to all in the Pratt Community, we are thrilled to have Dr. Kyle’s voice added to advancing our mission,” says Boyd-Sinkler, the Direcor of DEI for Duke Engineering. “I look forward to working with him and can’t wait to collaborate. Together we will do great things!”
“Being an educator, I’m passionate about anything that we can do to enhance student learning. We're in a time of increased focus on engineering for all and creating inclusive classrooms. This allows us to develop, implement and assess innovative approaches that codify DEI as a part of engineering education,” says Kyle. “Because of our established educational programs and highly skilled teaching faculty, there’s an opportunity for Duke BME to play a critical role in efforts to bring DEI into an undergraduate engineering curriculum, particularly with regards to DEI in engineering design."
Kyle and the DEI committee will also spearhead programs to ensure that DEI efforts are incorporated into research opportunities at Duke. Many of these programs include mentorship opportunities for faculty, staff and students, expanded recruitment efforts, and new fellowship and funding support. The team will also uplift and expand research programs and projects that address biomedical issues that significantly affect underrepresented groups or communities.
As for current faculty, Kyle and the DEI committee will support the incorporation of DEI into ongoing research, help with the mentorship of students and new faculty from diverse backgrounds, and facilitate faculty impact on the Durham community through outreach.
“We want the next generations of engineering scientists to know that they are conducting cutting edge research in an equitable and inclusive environment,” says Kyle. “We also want to help make DEI considerations foundational for young investigators, so that as they become leaders in discovery, their work will be informed by the needs of diverse communities with the goals of achieving equitable biomedical outcomes.”
Finally, Kyle will organize new outreach programs to ensure that Duke BME’s commitment to equity and anti-racism extends beyond the walls of the university. As one of his first actions as director of DEI, Kyle launched Outreach Design Education (ODE), a program that introduces middle and high school students, particularly underrepresented minority students, to engineering concepts and to foster an early appreciation for STEM. The program includes three events: A two-day hackathon for middle school students, a summer design program for high school students, and a design camp for teachers.
“There is a lot of literature about when students develop an engineering identity and persistence, and we’re seeing that middle school is a particularly critical time for minorities and young women,” says Kyle. “The goal with ODE and similar outreach programs is to reach communities that are sometimes neglected or underrepresented in engineering and give them early support.”
Kyle is optimistic that incorporating these changes into the BME department will not only benefit the Duke community, but the larger biomedical engineering and Pratt School of Engineering ecosystem as well.
“We are so excited to have Aaron on the faculty at Duke BME, especially in this new role as Director of BME DEI. This role will complement his outstanding contributions to the department in education and outreach,” says Joe Izatt, the Chair of Duke BME. “We are anxious to ensure that the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion permeate all that we do in BME, and we are confident that Aaron’s leadership will help us accomplish that.”
“I’m grateful to have the support of Joe and the partnership of the BME’s DEI committee as well as the broader Duke BME community,” he says. “All of our efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion are intended to not only make biomedical engineering more accessible, but also to improve our field.”