Honoring Native American Heritage Month

What advice would you give to current and future students about engineering careers?

“It’s an excellent time to be an engineering and technology professional. The field is welcoming to those from all backgrounds and communities, including American Indian and Alaskan Natives.

Engineers build the future by bringing innovative ideas and new technologies into practical use for society’s benefit. Engineers are the world’s makers, and Indigenous communities have been makers throughout their history.

We have many beautiful examples in history that tell this story, from the building construction at historical architectural sites to many of Phoenix’s sophisticated canal systems with excellent gradation and construction that can be linked back to the Hohokam people.

Today, we find materials and artifacts, such as elegantly crafted pottery featuring intricate and geometric designs, as well as equally intricate designs in textiles, jewelry and in many other things that are part of our daily lives.

Still, there remains a growing need for Indigenous participation in STEM pursuits. There are big challenges facing society that affect Indigenous communities and require Indigenous problem-solvers to overcome those challenges.

For example, I’m currently working on U.S. Department of Energy projects and I’m seeing firsthand how essential it is for tribal communities to engage in this nation’s current energy transformation. Tribal energy sovereignty is a critical issue that I would encourage every Indigenous student to learn about. But that is just one of the areas that need solutions to make progress.

Almost every industry sector has a quality of life issue that affects us. I would like to see more Indigenous engineering and technology professionals engaging in the scholarship needed to contribute to both local and global solutions.

From a career perspective, I would encourage students to immerse themselves deeply in problems they care about and to figure out how their engineering education can help contribute to solving those problems.

The Fulton Difference at ASU gives every student a platform on which to build skills and scholarship. I’m inspired by the grit, creativity, energy, optimism, problem solving and leadership being exhibited today by members of the ASU Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, for which I am the staff sponsor.

I encourage every student to take a brave step to try something new at the university and to take part in the efforts and experiences that will lead to greater skills and greater opportunities in today’s workforce.”

Portrait of Robin Hammond

Robin Hammond

Hammond is the chief education and workforce development officer for Electrified Processes for Industry Without Carbon, or EPIXC, which was selected as the Department of Energy’s seventh Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Prior to this role, Hammond was the founding director of the Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Center, which serves nearly 32,000 engineering and technology students as of Fall 2023.

Hammond is Navajo and serves on the Indigenous Career Futures university committee, and advises the American Indian Science and Engineering Society at ASU.

Get involved

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)

American Indian Science and Engineering Society at ASU logoThe American Indian Science and Engineering Society Arizona State University Chapter is dedicated to supporting American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian, and First Nation Indigenous People with their academic and career goals to substantially increase the representation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

AISES is the only professional society established by and for American Indian and Alaska Natives that specifically emphasizes lifelong learning and educational achievement by utilizing cultural aspects with STEM.

Anyone is welcome to this student organization. The main goal of their meetings is to help promote professional development and networking for all members.