Toyota investing $1.7 million to help diversify engineering workforce New scholarship program to increase equitable access to engineering degrees for minority students


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One of the world’s largest automakers is teaming up with the University of Louisville and two other institutions of higher education in Kentucky to help change the face of engineering. Today, Toyota announced a $1.7 million investment to increase opportunities for underrepresented students and assist them in earning engineering degrees.

    The program will provide full-tuition scholarships to female and minority students, along with needed resources to earn an engineering degree from either the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky. Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC) also is part of the collaboration with students first acquiring a two-year associates degree before enrolling in an engineering program in the commonwealth.

    “Building a stronger Kentucky will require deliberate and sustainable efforts to provide equal access to quality education,” said Susan Elkington, president, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. “This program will give more people a chance to build great careers in fields like engineering. Toyota is committed to providing resources, time and knowledge to help build stronger communities in which we operate. We’re thankful for great education partners that have the same mission.”

    Beginning Fall 2021, 35 students over a five-year period will be selected to receive full-tuition scholarships. The students also will be mentored by Toyota engineers and participate in a paid co-op opportunity with the company, earning $17 – $21 per hour. Additionally, students will complete two to three co-op rotations that will provide critical hands-on experience in multiple areas of the field.

    Emmanuel Collins, dean of the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering, highlighted the program’s focus on increasing diversity and inclusion in engineering.

    “There is critical shortage of women and minorities in the engineering workforce,” Collins said. “Toyota’s investment and partnership to help diversify our talent pipeline perfectly aligns with the university’s goals and we are grateful to be a part of this collaboration.”

    “Toyota has been a long-time partner of UK since locating in Kentucky nearly 35 years ago,” said Rudolph Buchheit, UK College of Engineering dean. “This is another example of Toyota seeing a need and stepping up to do something about it. It’s imperative to increase gender and ethnic diversity among our faculty, staff and students.”

    Stephen Brennen, vice president of production engineering at Toyota’s Production Engineering Manufacturing Center, agrees that strengthening the industry’s talent pipeline and staying ahead of customer demands will require new ways of thinking. “Not only for the continued growth and innovation of the field, but also to help Toyota move forward as we work toward our mobility vision for the future.”

    BCTC’s Provost Greg Feeney echoed the others and added that “diversity creates rich and productive workplaces and communities. We are pleased to join Toyota and our university partners to create opportunities for students.”

    Information about scholarships available at UofL’s Speed School of Engineering is available here.


    About Toyota

    Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our nearly 1,500 dealerships.

    Toyota has created a tremendous value chain and directly employs more than 36,000 in the U.S. The company has contributed world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 30 million cars and trucks at our 9 manufacturing plants, 10 including our joint venture in Alabama that begins production in 2021.

    To help inspire the next generation for a career in STEM-based fields, including mobility, Toyota launched its virtual education hub at with an immersive experience and chance to visit many of our U.S. manufacturing facilities. The hub also includes a series of free STEM-based lessons and curriculum through Toyota USA Foundation partners, virtual field trips and more. For more information about Toyota, visit


    Betty Coffman
    Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.