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Mobility21 Chooses First Diversity Fellow

Allanté Whitmore didn’t attend the first time she was accepted to Carnegie Mellon University, but today she’s living out one of her dreams working toward her Ph.D. in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) and Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) as Mobility21’s first Diversity Fellow.

A Detroit native, Whitmore is happy to be in another city-on-the-rise. While she says Detroit is still working to create its new identity, Pittsburgh’s identity is alive and well, as many know it to be a leader in robotics and automation.

Although her background is in agricultural and biological engineering, Whitmore is excited to become an expert on automative vehicles. She’s studying under Costa Samaras (CEE), Chris Hendrickson (CEE), and H. Scott Matthews (CEE/EPP), a few big names in the field of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs). They’re also research faculty at Mobility21 and the T-SET University Transportation Center. She’s also being advised by Gabrielle Wong-Parodi (EPP), who studies risk perceptions and communications, specifically in energy and climate.

Whitmore graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a bachelors in Biological Engineering. While in Greensboro, she studied biofuel generation - her research was on converting cattails to cellulosic ethanol - and during this time recognized knowledge gap between engineering and public policy.

Instead of Carnegie Mellon, Whitmore received her masters degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on a full fel-lowship through the Students in Under-represented Groups in Engineering (SURGE) program. After researching the soybean cyst nematode (SCN), she designed and developed a prototype for the automated extraction of SCN, a parasite responsible $0.7 to $1.2 billion in yield loss annually.

After graduating, she returned to Detroit and became a supervisor for the McNair Scholars program, where she shared her love of research with first generation students aiming to achieve advanced degrees. A highlight was seeing one of her students go on to a Ph.D. program at Princeton University.

Whitmore is excited to finally be at Carnegie Mellon, where she says thirst for knowledge is encouraged and the interdisciplinary culture is powerful. While she’s a veteran to the field of engineering, she’s taking her first swing at public policy. She hopes to be able to help legislators make better decisions for the people they represent.

In the future, she’d like to be the Dean of Engineering at North Carolina A&T, but not before making major contributions in the CAV scene in Pennsylvania. For now, she’s happy to be in the Mobility21 Diversity Fellow at CMU.