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A Qualitative Look at African American Students’ Perceptions of Developing Engineer of 2020 Traits Through Non-curricular Activities

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Curricular and Non-curricular Models for Diverse Learners in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.93.1 - 26.93.12



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Paper Authors


Julie P. Martin Clemson University

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Julie P. Martin is an assistant professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. Her research interests focus on social factors affecting the recruitment, retention, and career development of underrepresented students in engineering. Dr. Martin is a 2009 NSF CAREER awardee for her research entitled, “Influence of Social Capital on Under-Represented Engineering Students Academic and Career Decisions.” She held an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship in 2013-2014, with a placement at the National Science Foundation.

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Stacey D. Garrett Clemson University

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Stacey D. Garrett is a PhD student in the School of Education at Clemson University. She holds a Master of Education from James Madison University and has worked professionally in housing and fraternity/sorority affairs over the last six years. Her research interests include leadership development in college students and the experiences of women and people of color in academia.

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Stephanie G. Adams Virginia Tech

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Dr. Stephanie G. Adams is the Department Head and Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She previously served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the School of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University and was a faculty member and administrator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Her research interests include: Teamwork, International Collaborations, Faculty Development, Quality Control/Management and Broadening Participation. She is an honor graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, where she earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering, in 1988. In 1991 she was awarded the Master of Engineering degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1998. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation's most prestigious, Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education, holds membership in a number of organizations and presently serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Society of Black Engineers.

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Jamora Hamilton Clemson University

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Jamora Hamilton is a NSF REU-sponsored undergraduate researcher at Clemson University. She is a senior in Chemistry with a minor in Entomology.

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A Qualitative First Look at African American Students’ Perceptions of Developing Engineer of 2020 Traits Through Non-curricular ActivitiesThis paper describes results to date of a qualitative research study investigating theinfluence of certain non-curricular organizations on the development of Engineer of 2020traits in African American students. The students and alumni members we focus onparticipated in at least one of the following types of organizations:: Black GreekOrganizations (BGOs), Minority in Engineering Programs (MEPs), and the NationalSociety of Black Engineers (NSBE).The paper addresses the following research questions: (1) How does participation inNSBE, BGOs, and MEPs contribute to African American student and alumnidevelopment of the attributes of the Engineer of 2020, and what are the uniquecontributions of each? (2) How do African American engineering students and alumniperceive such participation as enhancing persistence, success and career opportunities inundergraduate engineering studies? and (3) How do African American engineeringstudents and alumni perceive participation in these activities as influencing their careerexperiences, achievement and contributions to society through the engineeringprofession?Participants were purposefully selected for semi-structured interviews from a database ofpotential participants who completed a related survey in 2012. The first round ofinterviews focused on African American students and alumni who attendedpredominantly white institutions as undergraduates. Separate analyses of transcripts werecompleted from a grounded theory and as well as a priori coding from related highereducational and student affairs literature.Results to date show some common experiences among participants; mentoring,relationships with peers, and participation summer bridge programs (generally run byMEPs). These common experiences served as an introduction or gateway to furtherinvolvement in NSBE and/or BGOs. Participants strongly ascribe their development ofindividual Engineer of 2020 traits to their non-curricular activities, particularly NSBE.Furthermore, the African American participants describe these organizations as servingas cultural enclaves on predominantly white campuses.Ongoing and future exploration includes comparison of current results to participantsfrom historically-Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and participants who werenot involved in NSBE (to explore in more depth the influence of the other organizations).

Martin, J. P., & Garrett, S. D., & Adams, S. G., & Hamilton, J. (2015, June), A Qualitative Look at African American Students’ Perceptions of Developing Engineer of 2020 Traits Through Non-curricular Activities Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23434

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015