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Board # 159 : Understanding the Professional Formation of Engineers through the Lens of Design Thinking: Unpacking the Wicked Problem of Diversity and Inclusion

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27791

Download Count

92

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Paper Authors

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Prior to this she was Co-Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue where she was responsible for developing curriculum and assessment tools and overseeing the research efforts within EPICS. Her academic and research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity and inclusion in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, leadership, service-learning, and accessibility and assistive-technology.

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Patrice Marie Buzzanell Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0058-7676

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Patrice M. Buzzanell is a Distinguished Professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and the School of Engineering Education (courtesy) at Purdue University. She serves as Butler Chair and Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center of Leadership Excellence. Editor of four books and author of over 175 articles and chapters, her research centers on the intersections of career, change, leadership, and resilience. Fellow and past president of the International Communication Association, she has received numerous awards for her research, teaching/mentoring, and engagement. She has worked on Purdue-ADVANCE initiatives for institutional change, the Transforming Lives Building Global Communities (TLBGC) team in Ghana through EPICS, and individual engineering ethical development and team ethical climate scales as well as everyday negotiations of ethics in design through NSF funding as Co-PI. [Email: buzzanel@purdue.edu]

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Andrew O. Brightman Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Andrew O. Brightman serves as Assistant Head for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. His research background is in cellular biochemistry, tissue engineering, and engineering ethics. He is committed to developing effective pedagogies for ethical reasoning and engineering design and for increasing the diversity and inclusion of engineering education.

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David Torres Purdue University

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David is a third year doctoral candidate in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University pursuing a PhD in Organizational Communication with a minor in data analysis and research methodology. His research interests reside at the intersection of organizational communication, identity, design, and organizational ethics.

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Sean M Eddington Brian Lamb School of Communication - Purdue

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Sean Eddington is a doctoral student in the Brian Lamb School of Communication studying organizational communication. He earned his B.A. in History from Purdue University, and his M.S. from Northwest Missouri State University. Sean’s research interests exist at the intersections of organizational communication, online organizing, resilience, and gender. He has researched new engineering faculty experiences throughout their on-boarding process, and has been published in 2015 Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education along with his research team. Eddington has also served as a series editor, contributed to trade publications, and facilitated workshops all related to higher education administrators’ work experiences.

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Abstract

Three broad issues have been identified in the professional formation of engineers: 1) the gap between what students learn in universities and what they practice upon graduation; 2) the limiting perception that engineering is solely technical, math, and theory oriented; and 3) the lack of diversity (representation of a wide range of people) and lack of inclusion (incorporation of different perspectives, values, and ways of thinking and being in engineering) in many engineering programs. These are not new challenges in professional formation, rather they are persistent and difficult to change. There have been countless calls to recruit and retain women and underrepresented minority group members into engineering careers and numerous strategies proposed to improve diversity, inclusion, and retention.

Despite change in some engineering discipline profiles and curricular reforms for engineering education, there still has not been the deep transformation needed to integrate inclusionary processes and thinking in professional formation. In part, the reason is that diversity and inclusion are still framed as “problems” to be solved. What is needed instead is an approach that understands and explores diversity and inclusion as interrelated with the epistemological (what do students need to know) and ontological (what does it mean to be an engineer) underpinnings of engineering. These issues are highly complex, interconnected, and not amenable to simple solutions, that is, they are “wicked” problems. They require design thinking. Thus this NSF-funded RFE study utilizes a design thinking approach and research activities to explore foundational understandings of formation and diversity and inclusion in engineering while addressing the three project objectives: 1) Better prepare engineers for today’s workforce; 2) Broaden understandings of engineering practice as both social and technical; and 3) Create and sustain more diverse and inclusionary engineering programs. The project is organized around the three phases of the design process (inspiration, ideation, and implementation), and embedded within the design process is a longitudinal, multiphase, mixed-methods study. The project will involve key stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, and administrators) from the schools of [University] in the research and design processes.

In this paper we describe this research project in more detail, including the study contexts, target subject populations, and procedures for quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and preliminary results. We will also discuss the planned design activities with the stakeholders, as well as some possible limitations to our approach.

Zoltowski, C. B., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Brightman, A. O., & Torres, D., & Eddington, S. M. (2017, June), Board # 159 : Understanding the Professional Formation of Engineers through the Lens of Design Thinking: Unpacking the Wicked Problem of Diversity and Inclusion Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27791

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