UC engineering professor receives diversity and inclusion award

Sheryl Sorby developed curriculum to help close the gap in spatial skills development

University of Cincinnati professor Sheryl Sorby received the 2021 Clair L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the ABET Board of Delegates. The award is presented by the accreditation board for extraordinary success in achieving diversity in technological segments of our society. 

Sorby, a professor in the Department of Engineering Education in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, has long served as a leader in efforts to improve the way engineering students are prepared for their careers. Through her extensive research, Sorby developed software and course workbooks to help engineering students, particularly women, grasp spatial visualization, something she struggled with herself as a student. This curriculum is being used by nearly 30 engineering programs in the U.S.  

According to the award announcement, Sorby was selected “for transformative and proactive leadership in improving retention and inclusion of diverse, minoritized groups by researching and creating interventions to enhance spatial skills in engineering students.”

Sorby is a fellow and the past president of the American Society for Engineering Education. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, a master’s degree in engineering mechanics and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, where she was later a faculty member who was instrumental in launching a first-year engineering program. 

Among many other accolades in her career, Sorby was also recently honored with the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies’ Duncan Fraser Global Award for Excellence in Engineering Education.