Meet Mohammed Ba-Aoum, VT interfaith student leader who received award from the Interfaith Youth Core


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Mohammed Baaoum, interfaith leader at Virginia Tech and PhD candidate in industrial systems engineering, has received the Racial Equity and Interfaith Award from the nonprofit Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC).

In support of the movement for racial justice in the United States,  Interfaith Youth Core has called for innovative projects exploring racial equity and interfaith dialogue in various domains. Mohammed submitted a proposal for creating a curriculum that explores the intersection of interfaith understanding and racial equity in engineering.

The project seeks to prepare students for leadership in a multicultural technological world by engaging in meaningful dialogue on topics spanning the boundaries of engineering, religion, and racial equity. Today, many professional engineering societies call for equipping engineering students with skills such as consideration of others, respect, sensitivity, and empathy to cultivate social responsibility. For some students, these skills and how they see themselves as engineers are rooted in their (non)religious identity. Through learner-centered activities and seminars, the program will engage participants in dialogue on the nexus of various (non)religious worldviews, engineering, and racial equity to allow them to bring their whole selves to their profession.

Mohammed hopes the project will help students analyze engineering environments and technology through critical race theory to recognize the role of race in shaping student experiences and perceptions of engineering.

In addition to his industrial systems engineering studies, Mohammed is pursuing a graduate certificate in engineering education and is interested in empowering engineers to work in a global, unconventional context. Before joining Virginia Tech, he completed a dual master’s at Arizona State University, one in industrial engineering and the other in social and cultural pedagogy. His previous research in this context explored the critical skills and attitude engineers need in international development and humanitarian work. He has also researched integrating ecological worldviews in engineering education.

Mohammed serves as a member of the Interfaith Council at Virginia Tech and is a co-founder and president of an interfaith student organization on campus (Synergy: Interfaith Collective at Virginia Tech). He also participated in Common Ground, a year-long interfaith leadership training offered by the Virginia Tech Interfaith Program during in 2020. In addition to his experience in this field, IFYC will offer Mohammed ongoing one-on-one consultation with an IFYC staff member and virtual networking opportunities with other award winners dedicated to developing a similar curriculum. The stipend will help Mohammed design the curriculum and invite speakers to give seminars on the proposal topic.

Mohammed’s project serves IFYC’s mission in equipping the next generation of citizens and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed for leadership in a religiously diverse world. Partnering with higher education institutions and corporations, IFYC is dedicated to making interfaith cooperation the norm and building an interfaith America in the 21st century.

You can contact Mohammed Ba-Aoum by email and Twitter.