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Adding Diversity and Culture to the Engineer’s Toolkit: Evaluating a Unique Course Option for Engineering Students

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Creating Equity Through Structure and Pedagogy

Tagged Topics

Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee

Page Count

23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29753

Download Count

26

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Paper Authors

biography

Chelsea Nneka Onyeador Stanford University

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I am a 4th year Mechanical Engineering B.S. student at Stanford University, planning to pursue graduate work in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT next year. I am a Nigerian-American from central Texas, and I am a devoted advocate for diversity in engineering.

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Shannon Katherine Gilmartin Stanford University

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Shannon K. Gilmartin, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scholar at the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research and Adjunct Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She is also Managing Director of SKG Analysis, a research consulting firm. Her expertise and interests focus on education and workforce development in engineering and science fields. Previous and current clients include the American Chemical Society, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, California Institute of Technology, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at California State University Fullerton, the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford University, the School of Medicine at Stanford University, and the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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Gloriana Trujillo Stanford University

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Gloriana Trujillo joined the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University in 2015. She initially trained as a basic science researcher, having first earned a B.A. at Dartmouth College in Biology, followed by a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, San Diego. Gloriana became interested in teaching and learning through her graduate work as a developmental neurobiologist and was awarded an National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellowship. She became intrigued by pedagogical approaches and how these impact students in the biology classroom during her National Institutes of Health-funded IRACDA Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of New Mexico. Gloriana's interest in biology education research led her to San Francisco State University, where she worked with Dr. Kimberly Tanner on biology department-wide faculty professional development funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. At SFSU, Gloriana's research sought to understand students' self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identity to ultimately affect change in undergraduate biology classrooms. Throughout her scientific career, Gloriana has been an advocate for underrepresented and underprivileged populations, and is an active member of SACNAS.

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Carol B. Muller Stanford University

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Carol B. Muller is the Executive Director of WISE Ventures, an internal initiative at Stanford, designed to communicate, build networks, and help seed new and needed ventures across the Stanford campus to advance gender equity in science and engineering. She also directs Stanford’s Faculty Women’s Forum. A longtime university administrator, educator, and social entrepreneur, her past experience includes service as Associate Dean for Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, where she co-founded the campus-wide Women in Science Project. She founded and was chief executive of MentorNet, a large-scale online nonprofit global mentoring network advancing diversity in engineering and science (1996-2008). At Stanford, she was consulting associate professor of mechanical engineering between 1998 and 2002, collaborating with faculty and staff to create “New Century Scholars: Teaching, Learning, and Your Academic Career,” a summer workshop designed for new engineering faculty members. A Fellow of the Association for Women in Science, Dr. Muller and her work have been recognized with other national awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, and the Anita Borg Social Impact Award. She has authored and presented numerous papers, presentations, and workshops. She earned an A.B. from Dartmouth in philosophy (1977), and A.M. (1981) and Ph.D. (1985) degrees in education administration and policy analysis from Stanford, and continues to build upon research in the design and implementation of programs.

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Abstract

Lack of diversity in engineering is a persistent problem both at industry and collegiate levels. Defined here as individual qualities divergent from historical characteristics (or even stereotypes) of engineers, diversity, at times, seems to be at odds with the culture of engineering itself. Lack of diversity in engineering manifests in a decreased retention rate of underrepresented minorities and women pursuing engineering degrees and engineering careers, and in a culture of homogeneity in engineering education and professional practice. This homogeneous culture is a detriment to inclusive engineering practice and products. Diversity improves inclusivity and can provide a competitive advantage in industry [1]. One potential solution to this problem is the integration of diversity education into engineering curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Diversity education here includes courses addressing the culture and social context of engineering, the disparate outcomes of engineers belonging to groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering, and inclusive engineering practice. Courses such as these would help students contextualize their experiences and those of others in a larger body of knowledge about human interaction and would make a statement about institutional values of inclusion. This paper examines one such course offered at University X in winter quarter of 2017 as a case study. This conference paper, authored by a former student of the class and the class instructors, relates the course experience from a first-hand perspective and evaluates several course aspects, including its impact and efficacy. This paper also provides effect practices for engagement and areas for improvement as evidenced by the case study. This paper has a specific focus on inclusivity, which is the ability of students of all backgrounds to engage meaningfully with the course. Since the goal of such courses is to attract students with a range of experiences and backgrounds, inclusivity in every course component is critical. This paper offers a comprehensive evaluation of the course at the center of this case study, drawing from student survey data, firsthand observations, and relevant literature. Questions that this paper will address include: How did this course differ from more "traditional" engineering courses? In what ways was the course successful? In what ways was it unsuccessful? What were the most effective practices and pedagogies developed from this course? The paper concludes with a commentary on the course's relevance for engineering faculty and industry professionals who are examining these types of learning experiences and with potential directions for future research.

Onyeador, C. N., & Gilmartin, S. K., & Sheppard, S., & Trujillo, G., & Muller, C. B. (2018, June), Adding Diversity and Culture to the Engineer’s Toolkit: Evaluating a Unique Course Option for Engineering Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29753

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