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A.C.E. in STEM
Infrastructural Design for DEBI-P


Examining the Problem Behind the Problem

     A major goal of STEM is to get more black, brown, and female students excited and interested in STEM careers. Reports on school climates for young students and marginalized undergraduates and graduate college students find that the biggest deterrent that deters a brown, black, or poor child from doing well in STEM and other academic disciplines is found in how they are treated within the learning environment. A recent study found that Black high school students made up 11% of participants at high school science and engineering fairs. In contrast, 33% were White; 32% Asian and Hispanic 20% (Grinnell, et. al. 2022). At district, regional, and state competitions in Science and Engineering, this number dropped to a dismal 4%. Why? Black students had the least amount of help from scientists, coaches, parents and teachers. Not being encouraged to work, learn, and, subsequently, gain employment in these lucrative fields can prohibit better healthcare, better nutrition, better living conditions, a better life and, possibly, a longer life. 

     Another obstacle to getting more students from marginalized groups into STEM careers is the lack of contact with people who look like them working in these fields. Not being exposed to someone in STEM that looks like them, means they have no representation to emulate. No representation of role models to emulate all play a role in the detriment of the future of Black and Brown youth. Black children succeed when they see Black teachers (Will, 2018). These scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists can provide guidance and opportunities and serve as role models through mentorship. These important connections do not happen naturally, hence, the reason why this form of inequity still exists. 

     Continuing to look into the future of STEM and inclusivity there needs to be a connection to the real-life experiences and challenges. The need to address energy efficiency and renewable energy are often on the minds of young people, who will be most affected by climate change. This means that global climate change that are adaptable for those most affected, for example, will require the involvement of more young Brown, Black and women engineers and scientists. I propose this same argument in other STEM areas. Without racial equity and parity, you are left with generational oppression - emotionally, racially, academically, and economically.
     Finally, the strongest factors of a negative climate involve racism and sexism. Racial Climate reports reveal that aggregates found in the margins in predominantly white learning environments continue to feel oppressed, isolated, excluded, and receive only passive support.  In middle schools, Black and Hispanic students do not feel as safe, have a lower percentage of connectedness, and feel excluded from participation compared to White students. There is also an underrepresentation of nonwhite students feeling a sense of being treated fairly compared to White students (Black, Hispanic American, Asian American, and American Indian). These findings also reveal that the solution to the problem of equity is not solely based on what is taught. Rather, how it is taught and the environment in which students learn. 



















































Integrating A.C.E. as a Viable Solution

A Drop of A.C.E. & Cultural Responsive Teaching

Grinnell F, Dalley S, Reisch J. High school science fair: Ethnicity trends in student participation and experience. PLoS One. 2022 Mar 23;17(3))
Schwartz, H., Melissa Kay Diliberti, and David Grant, Will Students Come Back? School Hesitancy Among Parents and Their Preferences for COVID-19 Safety Practices in Schools. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021.
Joseph L. Graves Jr.a,1 , Maureen Kearneyb , Gilda Barabinoc, and Shirley Malcomd, “Inequality in science and the case for a new agenda,”  Edited by Susan Fiske, Psychology Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; January 10, 2022
Will, M. “Study: Having Just One Black Teacher Can Up Black Students’ Chances of Going to College,” 2018.,more%20likely%2C%20the%20study%20found.

De-Marginalization through Media Integration

De-Marginalization through Leadership Development

     The pedagogical framework of Active Centralized Empowerment (A.C.E.), is specifically designed to empower and include all students as well as enhance the learning environment through de-marginalization. Constructs such as race, gender, sex, physically special, and economic backgrounds that are traditionally used as barriers that block conversations, oppress students’ voices, their existence, and experiences, are transformed into value aspects through cross-cultural competency. If your goal is equity, then you must address issues of power. A.C.E. is an empowered learning environment where students learn together in a space of diverse people, opinions, and voices, all without being marginalized. Students not only learn STEM skills but they also learn also how to navigate landscapes of marginalization through Self-Agency and empowerment of voice.

     I had the pleasure of working as an organizing committee member and workshop presenter for, "Recognizing and navigating power dynamics in research," for the Inclusive Lab Leaders Program of the 21st Century Scientists Initiative at the Beckman Institute on UIUC campus in Urbana, Illinois. The Inclusive Lab Leaders-Grads (ILL-GRAD) workshops are a new program by the 21st Century Scientists Initiative at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology. The goal of this program is to help faculty, PIs, graduate students and postdocs develop the skills and perspective needed to succeed in their research groups and develop materials to help them eventually lead their own laboratories in inclusive ways. This workshop series centers the needs of students and faculty on the ability to produce excellent science and work within the expectations of their department and lab group, in order to create an atmosphere of collaboration, inclusion, openness, and listening.

     Over 6 years, I led interactive workshops and presentations for the Grainger College of Engineering faculty, administrators and students on: 

  • Professional Branding using Multimedia

  • Being more Inclusive and Diverse in campus Labs, professional working environments and collaborations using Active Centralized Empowerment

  • The development of business presentations of projects and inventions

  • How to use Multimedia to sell and market inventions and products to various audiences

  • Leadership Development, Entrepreneurship, and Digital Social Marketing 

  • Enhancement of Online Portfolios and Online Digital Creations and Developments through Storytelling and Multimedia


     My presentations are a combination of practice and theory and strategies. In addition to the workshops, I worked directly with graduate students in ECE500 (Electrical & Computer Engineering) and TE461 (Technology Entrepreneur) on promoting, selling, presenting, researching and developing their message and projects using multimedia as entrepreneurs. This was an in-class and virtual class graded assignment. 

     The pedagogy and organizational design that I introduce for STEM specifically prepares students for success in college and their careers because it gives them hands-on experience on how they can manage and navigate their emotions and coping skills in oppressive environments found in STEM. Real-life experiences of students are brought into the learning environment with relevance that connects STEM lessons to real-life conditions in their communities and their families and relatable solutions. This gives the students a sense of belonging to the learning and living environment. This is how marginalized students find value in STEM and provide reasons to stay involved. 

     It is also important to know that Storytelling creates Community. By creating and implementing stories found in the diversity of a class or lab, for instance, and being Active on a Centralized Agreement and goal of Good, the Empowerment felt inside the CORE of these spaces and its members, Transformational changes in your labs and classes emerge as a unit. The learning environment, along with self-agency and inclusion with power, is then in a position to create equitable opportunities and spaces for students to voice their opinions, helps to find solutions to STEM problems that are relevant, and how to be effective as Transformational leaders within a collective. Students learn that they matter. They Belong. The long-term benefits is found in the fact that by including effective A.C.E. DEBI-P measures in STEM for students, translates into improved and more effective STEM services to individuals, societies and communities, in general. 

A.C.E. Consultation ROIs 
Return On Investment 
from Assessing
Representations Of Inclusion With Power & Equity

  • Learn and engage in the theory and practice of A.C.E. and how they play major roles in achieving equity and inclusion

  • Engage in Transformational leadership skill activities that directly challenge marginalization

  • Use their cross-cultural competence to center themselves within dialogues about STEM solutions and problems with respect to diverse opinions and populations

  • Write self-reflection blogs to develop critical thinking skills, find relevance, gauge self-growth, enhance self-esteem, confidence, and self-efficacy, and address emotional well-being

  • Learn how to create a STEM portfolio of their work and achievements online and how to properly use social media platforms for authentic, ethical and equitable professional representation

  • Engage in professional peer to peer critiques

  • Suggestions for Organizational Enhancement

  • Recommendations on Leadership Styles that are most conducive to Achieving DEI Initiatives in the specific learning environments

  • How to use Media Messaging to enact Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity


Tom Foulkes, a graduate of the Grainger College of Engineering at UIUC, assistant lead facilitator and attendee at my various workshops, and now CEO & Founder of Pacergy LLC & AquaQuant Laboratories Inc, Department of Energy Innovation Crossroads Fellow wrote; 


Hello Dr. Collins,


I want to thank you sincerely for taking time to prepare and to deliver today's engaging workshop about the best practices of sharing technical information and professional accomplishments via multimedia platforms. Based on audience feedback after the presentation from those who attended in-person and online, I know that everyone was inspired to start connecting with others and developing their professional brand via multimedia. I really appreciate that you demonstrated how to use all of the programs and tools since this demystified the process of engaging with multimedia.  In addition to your audience interaction, this definitely kept everyone engaged and provided the call-to-action at the end of the workshop. 

Thank you again for developing this successful workshop,

Tom Foulkes


Hello Dr. Collins,

     I sincerely appreciate your willingness to take time from your schedule in order to speak with my class about the best-practices for multimedia communication.  This will help the students prepare to create 2-minute videos about “product-market fit” and/or “describing their entrepreneurial journey” for their course projects and prepare to be more effective technical communicators once they graduate.  Another goal is to make sure students realize the importance and power of “storytelling” for technical communication.

     As an example of a 2 minute video, here is a YouTube link to a video that I made as part of my NSF I-Corps entrepreneurial accelerator program.  I used a lot of the best practices and lessons that I learned from your POETS lecture about multimedia communication back in November 2017, so many thanks! Tom Foulkes


Jessica Perez Associate, Director of Education and Inclusivity, Power Optimization of Electro -Thermal Systems Center (POETS), Grainger College of Engineering wrote;

Janice, I’d like to echo Tom’s remarks. Thank you so much for a wonderful, engaging workshop today. I accessed the workshop via the YouTube live event and appreciated how interactive it was. You struck a good balance of theory and practical information. Having examples from actual graduate students really helped make these approaches seem accessible. I can see how much work you put into creating this workshop and we greatly appreciate those efforts. I will work with Joe to get the recording from him and share it with you. Please let me know if I can do anything else to support your efforts to teach graduate students how to use multi-media to share their research. Best, Jessica

Previous Workshops & Presentations

  • Invited Workshop Presenter, Data Visualization, Branding, and Storytelling for Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Grainger College of Engineering, October 2019.

  • Organizing Committee Member and Workshop Presenter, "Recognizing and Navigating power Dynamics in Research," for Inclusive Lab Leaders for "Inclusive Lab Leaders Program of the 21st Century Scientists Initiative, Beckman Institute, UIUC, Urbana, Illinois. (April & May 2019, Fall semester of 2019, Spring of 2020). The Inclusive Lab Leaders-Grads (ILL-GRAD) workshops are a new set of programs by the 21st Century Scientists Initiative at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology. The goal of this program is to help faculty, PIs, graduate students and postdocs develop the skills and perspective needed to succeed in their research groups and develop materials to help them eventually lead their own laboratories. This workshop series centers the needs of students and faculty, which are to produce excellent science and work within the expectations of their department and lab group, in order to create an atmosphere of collaboration, inclusion, openness, and listening. (“Inclusive Lab Leaders | 21st Century Scientists”) April, May, October 2019, Spring of 2020

  • Invited Speaker, "How to create your own professional brand online," Graduate School of Engineering Workshop, UIUC, January 2019

  • Beginning in 2008 presented professional training workshops on Equity and Inclusion for CITL at the University of Illinois (Center of Innovation in Teaching & Learning). The audiences included faculty, administrators, professors, teacher’s assistants and students across disciplines including STEM.

  • National Award, the Baskett Mosse Award for Faculty Development for my work on De-Marginalizing the Marginalized with Active Centralized Empowerment (A.C.E.) module: Hear My Voice Registered Organization,, and community events. Received award for the teaching, research, creative endeavor, and public engagements contributions of HearMyVoice, 2017.

  • Invited Lead Facilitator for UNLEASH2019 Innovation Lab (Storytelling), which brings together professionals from all over the world to contribute insights and develop solutions through storytelling to help solve the world’s most pressing challenges as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Shenzhen, China. Also, asked to teach an additional “Masters” class to the entire group on covering sensitive issues and inclusion with power, November 2019

  • Dean Appointed, College of Media Representative, Inclusive Illinois, 2013 to 2019, UIUC

  • Director, Designer, Inclusive Illinois Initiative, 2013 to 2019

  • Sub-Committee Member, Program and Marketing, Inclusive Illinois, 2013 to 2020, UIUC

  • Planning Committee Member, Faculty Women of Color in the Academy (FWCA), 2013 to 2019, UIUC

  • Recipient, 2019 Excellence in Education Award from Zeta Xi Lamda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Induction into Zeta Xi Lamda in December 2019 at the 2019 Jewels Gala. 

  • Invited Presenter, Beauty and the Beast Mode Leadership Symposium: Empowering Emerging Leaders to Level Up, presented on scholarly discoveries of Active Centralized Empowerment directed by Olympian Aja Evans, Chicago, sponsored by Under Armour, ION, February 2020

  • Invited Paper Presenter and Workshop Facilitator, "Active Centralized Empowerment, Teaching without Borders" for "Contributing to Higher Education’s Vision of Equity and Inclusion: Integrating Diversity and Social Justice Issues with the Teaching of Skills and Across Campus," Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communications, Toronto, Canada. August 2019

  • Invited Workshop Presenter, "Teaching without Borders with Active Centralized Empowerment" for "Inclusive Practices for Teaching and Mentoring in Media Production Programs," Sponsored by EDIT Media (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media) and Gender and Sexuality Division, Broadcast Educators Association (BEA) National Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada. April 2019

A.C.E. Integrated STEM Curriculum for SDGs


Culturally responsive teaching and/or mentoring with A.C.E.


(Suggested Link) Underrepresented Youth Creating Culturally Relevant Games


Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI):

Designing and delivering virtual professional development


College and Career Connected Learning (STEM Pathways)

POETS - The Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems-an initiative of the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, partnered with Dr. Collins to specifically work with engineering graduate students and faculty for professional development.

POETS PowerPoint Presentation

Let's connect & work together to gain Optimal Performance & Outcome for All!

Email me to set up Consultations & Faculty Development Workshops at

or call me at (773) 914-0473

or Fax me at (217) 727-6084

Or you can head directly to my Pricing Page

I Look Forward to Speaking and Working with You to A.C.E. It !


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