Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Dear Colleagues:

The recent tragic deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky have left me angry, ashamed, and horrified to be a part of today’s world. I have resisted sending this statement to everyone because I felt I had nothing of importance to say. I felt that I was not equipped to help. I realize not saying anything also sends a message of not caring, which was not intended to be my message. My intention is to send a caring message.

As an engineer, I have become accustomed to responding to problems with the assumption that I can derive a solution. In this case, I do not have a solution. Systemic racism is a long-standing problem in this country. I do not have solutions to this problem, yet I know, as a white woman in the United States, I am doing no good by assuming this is not my problem or relying on other people to tell me how to respond.

There have been many essays, interviews, videos, and letters written by people who have been the subject of racism throughout their lives simply because of the color of their skin. One heartfelt essay was written by Stephen Carpenter, who is Penn State’s Dean of Arts and Architecture. Although I have not had his same experiences, his essay spoke to me.

What I do know is that I must be a part of the movement to affect change. I recognize this work is difficult, requires conversations that are uncomfortable, and must be followed by meaningful actions. What I also know is that if you are hurting and want to talk or need resources to help, please reach out to me. I can listen and I can try to help or find someone who is equipped to help.

Karen A. Thole
Distinguished Professor and Department Head
Department of Mechanical Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University

Additional Resources:



With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 1,000 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at me.psu.edu.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519