As an industry leader, Tektronix has long believed in the power of partnering with universities to recruit top-tier talent and tackle large technological challenges through cutting edge research. Tektronix engineers have spent decades working with top-rated engineering programs at universities across the country to offer support in the form of industry advice, internship programs, and equipment donations. However, as the company has continued to lean deeper into our commitments around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), we recognize that there is more to be done in accessing and lifting up a new generation of engineers from diverse backgrounds. This particularly holds true for engineers from under-considered communities. This is what led to the expansion of Tektronix’s university partnership program to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) like Morgan State University, which the National Trust for Historic Preservation named a National Treasure. These relationships are integral to the work Tektronix is doing to diversify the engineering field.
A New Connection Is Made with Morgan State University
Tektronix’s newest university partnership began when one employee saw an opportunity for a partnership aligned with the ideals of his company. “Our partnership with Tektronix is fairly new and came about from one particular Morgan State alumni, Dr. Amr Haj-Omar,” said Dr. Michel Kornegay, associate professor at Morgan State. Dr. Haj-Omar, Wireless Telecommunication- Market Segment Leader at Tektronix, performed his graduate research at Morgan State and was an adjunct faculty member with the university. He describes the motivation to incorporate Morgan State into Tektronix’s university partnership program as a unique opportunity to further Tektronix’s ideals by building a traversable bridge between the company and the college. “Creating this bridge is an opportunity that works both ways,” said Dr. Haj-Omar, “and it is a chance for those who are historically under-considered in engineering to gain exposure with a major industry player. Simultaneously, it brings new perspectives to our company, and fosters collaboration between academic research and internal R&D. These collaborations with academia are critical when investigating novel concepts that will lead to disruptive products in the market, all the while sharpening the minds of the students and enhancing the engineering curriculum of the university.”
One recent intern, Terral Salcedo, who took a fulltime position with Tektronix describes how these opportunities can change a new engineer’s trajectory. “There is an inherent fear that comes along with being black in engineering, that you wouldn’t be given the opportunity to even interview with a company of this stature. But, after coming here to the Tektronix campus, working under my supportive manager, Martin Cook, and gaining hands-on experience, it builds a confidence that simply cannot be replaced. I feel that this company will guide me toward becoming the best engineer I can be.”
Mehmet Aslan, Vice President of Engineering for Tektronix, acknowledged how partnering with HBCUs could help improve diversity at Tektronix. “Our focus on diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of what we’re doing, but there’s still a gap. We need to close that gap by partnering with HBCUs to offer better opportunities to all students. We’re also learning how to ensure diverse and underrepresented students have a structure that allows them to continue within the organization, and that they are supported through their programs.”
Mehmet also believes in the power of mentorship for both students and Tektronix employees. “It’s a great feeling to help shape the minds of individuals,” Mehmet said. “The students are benefitting from working with experienced engineers but our people also benefit from the good they feel in providing that guidance. It’s so valuable and we get more than we put in, which is a net benefit for us.”
By partnering with minority serving institutions like Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tektronix can reach more diverse student populations and researchers, increasing the prospective talent pool for employee recruitment and expanding research capabilities. “HBCUs do well in attracting, recruiting, and retaining diverse talent,” said Dr. Kornegay. “When you look at the largest producers of diverse talent in STEM fields, 25% or more are graduates with at least a bachelor's degree from an HBCU. We’re able to do it because of the environment we cultivate - an environment rich with faculty and staff who look like them and can connect to their experiences.”
Successful partnerships take time, effort and commitment to be successful, but the benefits are numerous for both sides.
Tek Foundation Philanthropic Contribution to Morgan State and the Inclusive Engineering Foundation
Part of Tektronix’s partnership with Morgan State University has also been funding from the Tektronix Foundation. In 2021, the Tek Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Tektronix, funded both Morgan State University and the Inclusive Engineering Foundation (IEF) which funds the Inclusive Engineering Consortium. The primary goal of the IEF funding was supporting the IEC’s Pathways program, and student internship placement. This donation helps further the efforts of Tektronix, to inspire a new generation of engineers from diverse backgrounds.
“Tektronix is one of the more visionary corporations in engineering and has the long lens of seeing opportunities and capturing them for underrepresented groups,” said John Janowiak, Chairman of the Inclusive Engineering Foundation. “The funding provided by the Tektronix Foundation will be utilized in developing mentorship and internship programs that directly benefit first-generation minority engineers. I’m thrilled to be partnering with Tektronix as we work to change the face of engineering.”
IEC’s Pathways to Success Mentorships gives minority undergraduates, particularly first-generation college students, the support network needed to thrive academically and professionally and IEC’s Pathways to Academia helps increase the number of minority graduate students and thereby increase the number of faculty members from under-represented minority groups.
“Tektronix is committed to investing in diverse talent – we know that a diverse workforce fuels our innovation, helps us create and deliver the best products, and enables us to best serve our customers. Our relationships with Morgan State and IEC are critical to our success. Both of these prestigious institutions hold the same values as Tek, and we are grateful for our partnership,” said Khai Jones, Senior HR Director for Tektronix and a member of the Tektronix Foundation committee
The Tektronix Foundation recognizes the work IEC is doing to diversify the engineering field and has made support of the IEC programs a part of the broader DE&I strategy.
As the professionals at IEC know, the work of diversifying the engineering field begins well before the interview process. Companies who invest time and resources into developing relationships with universities, especially HBCUs will help to reduce the digital divide and help produce a new generation of engineers.
“When you think about our society, technology plays an important role in aiding how communities have or do not have access and opportunity. Some students who enroll into our electrical engineering program require remedial support that we provide to help them be successful in a highly technical curriculum. Our goal is to remove any barriers that would deny our students access to competitive and highly technical jobs.” said Morgan State’s Dr. Kornegay.
The work of building these relationships and growing the engineering field will continue for years to come. “We want to increase this kind of engagement even more. It’s so valuable and we as a company get more than we put in. The benefits aren’t always measurable, it’s about more than money, so we’re not going to take our eyes off it. Improving diversity and inclusion in engineering is a major goal for Tektronix and our engagement with Morgan State University allows us to drive that,” said Aslan.