The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) was founded in 1977 with the mission to substantially increase the representation of American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Pacific Islanders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related fields. Using a “full circle of support” model, AISES programs serve the organization’s members as pre-college and college students, professionals, mentors, and leaders.
Housed in Portland State University’s Native American Student & Community Center, the PSU AISES chapter is one of 177 college and university AISES chapters in the United States and Canada. Participation is open to all interested Portland State students, faculty, and staff. The PSU chapter received the Outreach and Community Service Chapter Award, given by the national AISES organization, for its inclusiveness, as participation in open events and community service regularly includes members of the native and non-native PSU community.
The PSU AISES chapter, which meets once a week during the academic year, provides Portland State students, faculty, and staff with opportunities for both civic engagement and personal professional growth. Chapter activities range from engaging in community volunteer work, such as serving as judges at Portland-area science fairs, to promoting professional development among PSU students. PSU AISES members regularly attend the AISES National Conference and have hosted AISES Regional Conferences. The conferences provide opportunities for pre-college and college students to gather and share information, form partnerships, and to network with each other and with selected presenters and AISES partners.
Associate Professor Tim Anderson (Engineering and Technology Management) serves as the PSU AISES chapter’s faculty mentor. Members currently include Diné (Navajo), Wyandotte, Native Hawaiian, Blackfeet, Mayan Indian, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, and Confederated Tribes of Siletz students majoring in STEM and non-STEM disciplines.
Current Chapter Coordinator, Larrita Riggs, a Child and Family Studies major, will be the first person from her Diné family to attend and graduate from college. Though she is not a STEM major, she considers herself a STEM advocate. Participating in AISES as a Portland State student has made her dedicated to helping native communities and she credits the PSU AISES chapter for helping to shape her into a driven, strong Diné woman who continues to seek positive change, not only for Native Americans, but for all human beings. Riggs says, “Being a part of AISES continues to inspire me to be an innovative, creative, and passionate leader who will use diversity to solve the diverse cultural and scientific challenges of the future.”
For more information, please visit http://aises.pdx.edu/, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.