Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Award

Amy Fleischer, Ph.D.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

For an enduring commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in science and engineering education; and for driving innovative programs that improve opportunities for women and minorities.

As a child, Amy Fleischer was fascinated by astronaut Sally Ride, but she did not want to travel into space — she wanted to build the rockets that took people there. She earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and an M.S.M.E. and a B.S.M.E. (mechanical engineering) at Villanova University. Dr. Fleischer now serves as dean of the College of Engineering at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, a position she has held since 2018. She sets the direction for the college and oversees nine departments, 14 degree programs, 220 full-time faculty, 55 staff, and 6,000 students. An internationally recognized research expert in thermal management of electronics systems, Dr. Fleischer has led work on 42 research grants, and she has written two books and has had more than 100 peer-reviewed articles published.

Before joining Cal Poly, Dr. Fleischer served as a professor and chair of the mechanical engineering department and director of the National Science Foundation Research Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems at Villanova University. She was on the faculty at Villanova for 18 years, was the founding chair of the College of Engineering Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (2017-2018), and she chaired the Villanova launch team for the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership.

Determined to create a supportive environment in engineering and computer science at Cal Poly, Dr. Fleischer has made diversity, equity, and inclusion her mission. As soon as she arrived on campus, she established a college-level justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion committee, which set the stage for several initiatives that Dr. Fleischer developed and implemented. She established inclusive hiring guidelines for the College of Engineering; incorporated accessible materials throughout the college, including English-to-Spanish translations; and created a strategic plan for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the college.

Thanks to Dr. Fleischer’s efforts, the College of Engineering received bronze-level recognition from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Under her leadership, three college majors — environmental, biomedical, and liberal arts/engineering studies — now have more than 50% women students, and the college student population is approaching 30% women.

Dr. Fleischer has a strong commitment to inspiring young people and has served on the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast Board since 2019 and on the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Council from 2017 to 2018. She is also active in professional leadership and serves on the executive board of the ASEE National Engineering Dean’s Council, as chair of the California State University System’s Engineering Dean’s Council, and as co-chair of the diversity and inclusion committee of the ASEE National Engineering Dean’s Council. Dr. Fleischer is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and has received numerous teaching and research awards.