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04 April 2022

Equality programme, Success for Black Engineers awarded Royal Academy of Engineering funding

Success for Black Engineers will develop and deploy a series of measures that will better support Black students and ensure their success at King’s


A King’s Engineering project designed to support black engineering students at school and university has been awarded funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s new Diversity Impact Programme to address the unequal outcomes experienced by students from diverse and underrepresented groups. The project, Success for Black Engineers, will also train students from the university’s existing Black community to become peer mentors and black and minority ethnic staff to become academic mentors for these students.

Jointly spearheaded by Professor Kawal Rhode and Dr Ernest Kamavuako, the project was put together in consultation with black postgraduate and undergraduate students in the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences.

We have carefully reviewed the findings of the Hamilton Commission Report and our project, 'Success for Black Engineers,' aims to better understand the needs of pre-university black students interested in engineering degrees and our own black engineering students. We aim to develop and deploy a series of measures that will better support these students and ensure their success at King’s.

Kawal Rhode, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Head of Education, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences

Diversity in human resources is an important asset, and thus this award enables the translation of how we value each student's potential to our engineering programmes.

Dr Ernest Kamavuako, Senior Lecturer in Engineering

The intermediate outcomes of the project are to increase black applicants to King’s Engineering programmes, increase attainment and wellbeing for black engineering students and gain deeper insight into the needs of black students in engineering at King’s.

Black students have lower attainment in key engineering subjects of maths and physics compared to their white counterparts and are less likely to achieve a 2.1 or 1st class degree outcome.

This contributes to subsequent under-representation in engineering careers.

Success for Black Engineers targets school children in years 9 to 13 and undergraduate students studying engineering degrees in years 1 to 4 that are British Black (African and Caribbean) students or those that are British and identify as Black.

For the school children, they will be in NRS social grades C2/D/E and have an interest in STEM subjects.

The five-year goal that this project contributes to is to increase numbers of Black undergraduate engineering students from 5 percent to 11.5 percent.

I am delighted to support this fantastic project and to do so at a critical time of social change worldwide. We create solutions as engineers through working together in multidisciplinary teams but we need also to translate this diversity into a cultural perspective, which this project clearly addresses. Congratulations to our King’s Engineering colleagues for this greatly deserved funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering, who have introduced an innovative scheme with true potential to transform diversity impact, particularly around BaME students.

Bashir Al-Hashimi Executive Dean, Faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences

When I originally started my course in 2013, I was the only black student in my cohort and that has carried on into my postgraduate studies. The main action points of this project will really make a difference to black students and propel diversity within our university to be more reflective of our city. I believe its impact on engineering will be better solutions to problems, founded by diverse ways of thinking, which come from different lived experiences and aspirations.

Elsa-Marie Otoo, Phd student

Through Professor Rhode’s and Dr Kamavuako’s Success for Black Engineers programme we can start to properly tackle underrepresentation in our educational programmes. Working hand-in-hand with black staff and students, I am confident that this will be a hallmark diversity programme for King’s Engineering. I commend all involved.

Professor Sebastien Ourselin, Head of School, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences

King’s has a comprehensive plan to move us towards being an anti-racist university and to tackle all forms of structural inequality. I was delighted to be part of the group who worked on putting this proposal together to address long standing issues with the pipeline to increase the diversity of the engineering profession – especially as it is focusing particularly on underrepresentation of black ethnicities. Whilst I am moving on I am so excited to see the transformative impact this could have for individuals as well as leading the sector in developing positive action to address underrepresentation.

Sarah Guerra, Director of Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, King’s College London

Launched in October last year, the Diversity Impact Programme aims to inspire change in university engineering departments so that all students succeed and the unique perspectives and experiences of engineers from diverse backgrounds continue to enhance the profession. 

In this story

Kawal Rhode

Professor in Biomedical Engineering and the Head of Education at the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences

Sebastien Ourselin

Professor of Healthcare Engineering

Ernest Kamavuako

Reader in Engineering

Bashir M. Al-Hashimi

Vice President (Research & Innovation)