Campus News

Toyota Investing $1.7 Million to Help Diversify Engineering Workforce

Video courtesy of Toyota

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 21, 2021) — One of the world’s largest automakers is teaming up with three 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.

Pending approval from the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, the gift will be used to establish and support the Toyota Engineering Technology Diversity Scholarship Fund, which will provide annual scholarships for undergraduate students from the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville or Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC).

Preference will be given to students whose ethnic, racial, gender or background would enhance the diversity of their institution, as long as these preferences are narrowly tailored to the university’s achievement of its interest in obtaining the educational benefits of a diverse student body. However, every student who is enrolled in the program, is a Kentucky resident and has unmet financial need will have an opportunity to compete for the scholarship.

“Building a stronger Kentucky will require deliberate and sustainable efforts to provide equal access to quality education. This program will give more people a chance to build great careers in fields like engineering,” Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), said.  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. In addition to the preferences, participation in the program and Kentucky residency status, recipients will be determined after a review of the applicants’ qualifications, such as academic merit, extracurricular and volunteer activities, and professional goals.

The students will be mentored by Toyota engineers and participate in a paid co-op opportunity with the company earning $17-$21 per hour. Additionally, they will complete two to three co-op rotations that will provide critical hands-on experience.

“Toyota has been a longtime partner of UK, since locating in Kentucky nearly 35 years ago,” Rudolph Buchheit, dean of the UK College of Engineering, said. “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.”

“There is critical shortage of women and minorities in the engineering workforce,” Emmanuel Collins, dean of UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering, added. “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.”

Stephen Brennen, vice president of production engineering at PEMC, 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.”

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

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 Toyota and Lexus brands, plus their 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 nine manufacturing plants, 10 including their 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 the 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 additional information about Toyota, visit

Dr. Yangyang Wu, in the UK Brazing lab.
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.