The College of Engineering now has a permanent display of flags in the Student Commons of the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences  that represents the home nations of students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the college. The flags celebrate the culturally rich and globally diverse body of the College of Engineering community.
At present, there are 80 flags that represent students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The plan is to rotate flags as needed and at least once a year to reflect changes in the student body and with employees.
The goal of the project was to create a display that contributes to a welcoming and inclusive environment and recognizes the global environment in which engineers practice.
Funding for the project came from a UI Catalyst Seed Grant, the UI Coca-Cola Fund, a “Sponsor-a-Flag” pledge drive with contributions from Engineering faculty and staff. Donations also came from the Ethnic Inclusion Effort for Iowa Engineering, Center for Computer-Aided Design, UI International Programs, UI Laundry Services, and the Engineering Dean’s Office.
The Engineering Staff Advisory Council and Ethnic Inclusion Effort for Iowa Engineering joined efforts to work on the project. The groups installed a temporary display of world flags for the 2009 Research Open House. Fundraising efforts began in Fall 2009.
Dean Butler of the College of Engineering sat down with Accents to express the importance of the flags.
“The display serves two purposes,” he said. “First, we are reaching out to our international population and recognizing who they are and where they’re from. It’s a good welcoming sign. Second, it’s for our domestic students to make them realize they are amongst a population of 80 different countries. It’s an eye opener for them.”
The flags were first a temporary display for an event two years ago, but Butler said the response was so positive that he suggested it become a permanent exhibition. The student commons was an ideal choice to house the flags as the area is open 24 hours for engineering students to study.
“It will change every year,” he explained. “So if you’re from a country that is not represented and you arrive here as a new student, your flag will be flying.”
Butler invites anyone who hasn’t seen the display to check it out. “It’s quite spectacular,” he said.
A news blurb  from the College of Engineering website contributed to this posting.