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Rainbow Engineering Network

In the Penn State College of Engineering, we understand that the best engineering emerges when our researchers can bring their whole selves to the team. The College of Engineering is proud to provide the Rainbow Engineering Network (REN) to support that truth. The REN is a sibling to the Rainbow Science Network, an initiative created by the Eberly College of Science to foster a fully inclusive environment in their research groups. As part of the College of Engineering initiative, prospective research team members at the undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and technical levels in the LGBTQ+ community can readily identify research groups where faculty members have received training in LGBTQ+ issues and are committed to fostering a fully inclusive environment.


LGBTQ+ people experience unique challenges in life — in college and at work — and there are additional challenges that come from being a scientist or engineer. The College of Engineering recognizes the value that diversity brings to the research enterprise, and talented scientists and engineers are to be found among the LGBTQ+ community. The REN is designed to support and facilitate research training for LGBTQ+ undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and research staff.

The concept is simple: The REN is a list of research faculty who have undergone two Penn State—provided training courses designed to increase the understanding of issues facing LGBTQ+ people and are committed to maintaining a welcoming and inclusive research group:

The REN list can be used to help students, postdoctoral scholars, and research staff identify a group where they can bring their whole self to the research environment; however, there is no requirement to be ‘out.’ Trainees can find additional details about research-active faculty and how to apply for research opportunities on departmental websites or through the programs listed below.

Please note: In all of these programs, consideration for admission does not involve being part of the LGBTQ+ community. You are under no obligation to disclose your status.

Joining the REN

If you are a faculty member who is interested in maintaining an inclusive research environment in your group that is overtly friendly to members of the LGBTQ+ community, you can signify this by joining the Rainbow Engineering Network. Your listing as an REN member will indicate to undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research staff in the LGBTQ+ community that they are free to bring their whole selves to work for you. By sharing your commitment via the REN, we aim to encourage and tap into the pool of LGBTQ+ research trainees and help diversify the Penn State research workforce.

By joining the REN, your name will be listed among other trained and committed faculty. The benefit of joining the REN is that LGBTQ+ applicants will know, through your membership, that you are committed to maintaining a friendly and inclusive atmosphere towards LGBTQ+ people in your group when they are evaluating which research groups to apply to. LGBTQ+ applicants to REN member research groups are under no obligation to disclose their LGBTQ+ status (gender, sexual orientation, etc.) and are free to be ‘out’ to the extent that they choose and feel safe. You may never know that someone chose your research group because of the REN. Those who consult the list of REN faculty will apply to work in your group via all the usual routes that you currently use to find and evaluate research personnel.

Responsibilities and how to join the REN:

  • Faculty who join the REN must have completed two trainings offered by the Penn State Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity who will provide certification of participation.
  • Recognizing that faculty members have many responsibilities and may not be with the research group all day, it is also required that one other member of the group (of any rank) must also complete the trainings to provide a daily presence who may be better placed to recognize any microaggressions or biased behavior that might arise in the faculty members absence. Training of the rest of a group should be encouraged by REN faculty but is not mandatory for REN membership.
  • REN faculty members are required to remind their group once a semester (e.g., at a group meeting) that they have made a commitment to foster an inclusive scientific community by joining the REN and to make their expectations clear in this regard. Please note that in order to avoid inadvertently ‘outing’ someone who selected your group because of its REN listing, we recommend that this reminder does not coincide with the arrival of any new group members.
  • You do not have to have any open research positions to join or maintain your listing on the REN; it is understood that openings come and go through natural turnover processes.
  • As with all interpersonal disputes between group members, REN faculty members should be prepared to mediate any potential conflicts. Group members should be cognizant of Penn State’s policies on reporting wrongdoing and report any acts of bias or discrimination as a mandated reporter.

Register to become a recognized member of the REN:

To begin the process of becoming recognized as a member of the Rainbow Engineering Network, please complete the registration form. If you have not already completed the Safer People Safer Places – LGBTQ+ Foundations Workshop and/or completed the Transgender & Gender Inclusion 101 Workshop, you will be notified of upcoming trainings upon completing the form.


Penn State Policies and Reporting Resources:

Instructional Resources:

International LGBTQ+ STEM Organizations:



Founded to serve students from groups underrepresented in engineering, the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion assists College of Engineering students, faculty, and staff with equity and inclusion engagement. The center leads the implementation of evidence-based best practices to support student belonging and degree attainment, while also encouraging involvement with justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion programs and organizations. All are welcome!

Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion

College of Engineering

112 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-4287