Ephrahim Garcia Engineering Society

Mission Statement

The mission of the Ephrahim Garcia Engineering Society is to facilitate a welcoming and supportive environment for the under-represented faculty of Cornell University's College of Engineering. With the understanding that a diverse faculty enriches the learning and research environment, we would like to be of service in the recruitment and retention of a more diverse engineering community. Pursuant to these goals, the society's members provide advice to the dean on issues/concerns of diversity such as recruiting, mentoring and tenure and promotion of under-represented faculty.

Lance teaching

A lifelong commitment to diversity

In the fall 2014, Ephrahim Garcia, a gifted researcher with a sharp intellect, a quick wit, and infectious curiosity, was taken from us suddenly—too soon—at the age of 51. Ephrahim embodied all that we value at Cornell.

In his memory, we create a society dedicated to the goal he held dearest in his heart, namely becoming the first Ivy League Engineering College with faculty demographics that reflect the broader society.

Ephrahim lived what he preached. The son of immigrant parents who fled Cuba during the communist revolution of the late 1950s, he experienced firsthand the discrimination a "little Cuban kid" sometimes experienced in New York City and later in Long Island as he was growing up. Undeterred, he entered college, then graduate school, and ultimately joined the Cornell faculty in 2002 and quickly became a central figure in his department and the college. Ephrahim worked with countless project teams on vexing design problems, advising students at all levels (both formally and informally), making sure there was plenty of room in his lab for undergraduate researchers. He also made the time to mentor faculty of all races, creeds, colors and genders, as he felt it a responsibility of his to share the wisdom he had earned through his own successes and occasional failures.

Ephrahim Garcia understood that there is real strength in diversity. He advocated passionately for the idea that the faculty at Cornell Engineering should be as diverse as the nation's population at-large. He understood that diverse groups produce a wider range of options that ultimately yield better solutions. And so he pushed his beloved university, hard.

It is in honor of Ephrahim Garcia's dedication to faculty diversity that we establish this Engineering Society in his name.

Lance R. Collins
Joseph Silbert Dean, Cornell Engineering

What Cornell Engineering offers the URM Faculty Community

The Cornell Engineering community offers a welcoming and vibrant research environment while recognizing that faculty from diverse backgrounds may experience additional challenges. The Ephrahim Engineering Society is a group of faculty from all levels that offers fellowship for more senior faculty and mentorship for more junior faculty. In recent years, we have provided advice to senior leadership on some recruitment and retention issues and served as role models for our ever more diverse student body. As the number of URM faculty in the College of Engineering continues to grow we would like to serve as the example of how URM educators in engineering can thrive a leading research university.

Ephrahim GarciaA Profile-Professor Ephrahim Garcia

With fond thoughts of his life and works

Ephrahim Garcia
June 14, 1963 - Sept. 10, 2014

Cornell Daily Sun 

Dr. Garcia had interests in several areas of dynamics and controls, especially sensors and actuators involving smart materials. 

Projects at the time of his death:

  • Modeling and Analyses of Flapping Wings Design and Control of Nanoscale Smart Material Actuators
  • Control of Reconfigurable Morphing Aircraft Energy
  • Harvesting for Biological Systems: Lab-on-a-BirdAeroelastic 
  • Energy Harvesting Modeling with Applications to Urban Terrain
  • Artificial Muscles for a Bipedal Walking Robot
  • Mesoscale Hydraulics for Bio-inspired Robots 

How to contact the Ephrahim Garcia Engineering Society

Professor Mark Lewis
221 Frank HT Rhodes Hall
Phone: 607 255-0757 


Professor Chris Hernandez (BME)Chris Hernandez

"Decades of research has shown that having a diverse group of people working on a problem leads to more innovative solutions. Moreover, companies with gender, race and ethnic diversity tend to have better financial returns than their competitors. One of the duties of an engineering college is to educate and train talented engineers who will create the technologies of the future. The changing demographics in America suggest that if the nation is to remain number one in technology we must truly educate "any person" in engineering, The Ephraim Garcia Engineering Society recognizes that the availability of role models from similar backgrounds is an established method of enhancing the success of students from traditionally under-represented groups. The Society consists of faculty who are not only leaders in engineering research and education but are also proud to serve as role models for students. "

Professor Alan Zehnder (MAE) Alan Zehnder

"In my former position as Associate Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development at Cornell Engineering, as well as in my current position as a professor in Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, I have witnessed firsthand the value of having a truly diverse faculty. Common sense and compelling research support the idea that having multiple voices in a group makes the group perform better. In addition to making the science we do here stronger, having a diverse faculty also allows us to serve our students better. If students see someone in the front of the room who looks like they do, it changes what the students think is possible. Our goal is to have the highest quality faculty we can, and that means recruiting talented, promising faculty from the biggest pool we can."

Professor Hakim Weatherspoon (CS)Hakim Weatherspoon

"The impact of the Ephraim Garcia Engineering Society is significant: It recognizes that we live in an ethnically rich and diverse world and that we as a society benefit when the engineers and scientists that create the inventions, innovations, and technologies we rely on reflect that diversity. It is vital to support, embrace, and enhance diversity everywhere along the pipeline. It starts with recruiting, retaining, and graduating talented undergraduates from underrepresented groups. It includes recruiting, retaining, and graduating promising graduate students from underrepresented ethnicities and backgrounds. And it continues with recruiting, hiring, and retaining talented faculty from these same groups. The Ephraim Garcia Engineering Society has impacted me personally as an underrepresented minority faculty member and helps motivate not just me, but all of our students, our departments, and the entire college of engineering. Ultimately, the Cornell University community and society at-large are the beneficiaries of a more diverse engineering population."