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Board 232: CAREER: Disrupting the Status Quo Regarding Who Gets to Be an Engineer—Highlights from Year 2

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jeremi S. London Virginia Tech

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Dr. Jeremi London is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. London is a mixed methods researcher with interests in research impact, broadening participation and instructional change.

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Brianna Benedict McIntyre Virginia Tech

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Dr. Brianna Benedict McIntyre earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Engineering Education from Purdue University. She is committed to promoting inclusive excellence and serving others in her academic and local community. Among her research, service, and teaching commitments, she has also worked at the National Science Foundation to build capacity in science communication for broadening participation and citizen science efforts. Her research is grounded in understanding how interdisciplinary engineering programs exist as hybrid spaces for undergraduate students navigating a traditionally siloed engineering culture and challenging the dominant narrative of becoming an engineer. Her research efforts have resulted in publications and presentations for the science education, engineering education, and personality and social psychology research communities. In 2018, the awards committee nominated Bri and her colleagues as one of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Best Diversity Paper Finalists for their paper titled Uncovering Latent Diversity: Steps Towards Understanding ‘What Counts’ and ‘Who Belongs’ in Engineering Culture. This research helped their team understand how students describe what counts in today’s engineering culture and how their work can begin to encourage educators to include additional ways of knowing, thinking, and being an engineer. She is an active member and professional development leader for the American Society for Engineering Education’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her team has offered 13 interactive virtual workshops that impacted nearly 475 engineering education professionals over two years. Her most notable accomplishment was her recognition as one of seven recipients of the 2019 American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award based on her commitment to teaching and learning and civic engagement; Purdue’s College of Engineering Outstanding Service and Leadership Award in 2019; and Purdue’s Graduate School Mentoring Award in 2021.

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Nicole Adia Jefferson Virginia Tech

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My name is Nicole Jefferson (she/her/ma'am). I am a second-year Ph.D. student studying Engineering Education. Because of a GRA appointment where I research exemplary engineering colleges and their production of successful Black and brown engineers, I am currently interested in the preparedness of underrepresented students from undergraduate and master's engineering programs to doctoral engineering programs. I am excited about having the opportunity to become a better ENGR/ENGE researcher. In the future, I aspire to be an engineering education policy advocate and have plans to develop a research preparation consortium.

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Although broadening participation efforts aim to transform who has access to engineering by targeting those historically excluded, Black and Brown students’ participation remains stifled by the exclusionary culture and practices ingrained in engineering. Consequently, there is a need for scholarship that advances our understanding of systemic changes that center equity, challenge exclusionary cultural norms, and ultimately contribute to a disruption in the status quo of who gets to be an engineer.

The overarching research question guiding this study is: What combination of insights and actions form a robust, actionable change model for broadening participation in engineering and set Colleges of Engineering on a viable path to parity? Using a multi-case research design that is framed by Kotter’s Leading Change theory and Acker’s Inequality Regimes as theoretical foundations, this CAREER award aims to uncover the change strategies institutionalized by four exemplary COEs to improve Black and Brown students’ access to engineering education and careers. The institutions included in this study are: 1) Florida International University, 2) University of Maryland- College Park, 3) University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and 4) George Mason University. Semi-structured interviews with university personnel, focus group interviews with students, on-campus observations, and publicly-available reports make up the database associated with each case.

To date, we have conducted 31 interviews with faculty, staff, and leaders across the four exemplary institutions. These data have illuminated a suite of best practices for advancing equity in historically exclusionary areas of student experiences – admissions, financial aid, and degree requirements. Moreover, the data are also informing the adaption of Acker’s Inequality Regimes for a higher education context rather than the workplace setting in which it was designed. Lastly, the research team continues to engage in professional development activities that will build our capacity to construct compelling impact narratives that tell the story of how equity-oriented change came about at each exemplary COE. In the coming years, we will shift our focus to translating the research findings into a toolkit that can be implemented by university leaders at institutions across the United States.

The most substantive elements of this executive summary will have two foci. One, we will present the data analysis strategy we plan to use for analyzing interviews. Lastly, it will include an application of the analytic strategy to the data as part of developing preliminary findings about the “internal calculus” students perform (or may want to consider performing) when processing the messages they receive during critical junctures in their academic journey. Preliminary findings suggest that most messages fall on a spectrum of benign and malignant and come from messengers who range from benevolent to hostile. The findings have implications for the sender and receiver of such messages, and researchers focused on engineering identity formation.

London, J. S., & McIntyre, B. B., & Jefferson, N. A. (2023, June), Board 232: CAREER: Disrupting the Status Quo Regarding Who Gets to Be an Engineer—Highlights from Year 2 Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42673

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