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Board 331: Latinx Engineering Students Surviving the Odds to Accomplish Their College Degree

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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


Hilda Cecilia Contreras Aguirre New Mexico State University

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Hilda Cecilia Contreras Aguirre received an Ed.D. degree in Higher Education Leadership from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), and an M.Sc. from the University of Technology of Compiègne, France. She is now a researcher at New Mexico State University (NMSU). She focuses her research on qualitative studies addressing minority and underrepresented student college persistence, such as Latinas’ performance in STEM, mentoring, and Latinx’ research involvement in Engineering. She is also interested in participating in collaborative efforts promoting interdisciplinary research. Lastly, she is currently the PI and Director of the Research-Oriented Learning Experience (ROLE) in Engineering, a National Science Foundation-funded project, and the coordinator of a Latinx Femtoring/Mentoring program at NMSU.

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Nicole Delgado New Mexico State University

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I am a first-year Ph.D. student at New Mexico State University in the department of Curriculum and Instruction. I currently work on a sponsored project that supports Latinx undergraduate sophomore, junior, and senior-level students in developing research, technical, interpersonal, academic, and professional skills that are transferable in their decisions to enter into graduate studies or the professional world

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Luis Rodolfo Garcia Carrillo New Mexico State University

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Luis Rodolfo GARCIA CARRILLO received the PhD. degree in Control Systems from the University of Technology of Compiègne, France. He was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center of Control, Dynamical systems and Computation at UC Santa Barbara, USA. He currently holds an Assistant Professor position with the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University, USA.

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While increasingly more minority students are enrolling in college, the number of college graduates with STEM degrees is not still favorable for minority students such as Latinx. In particular, Latinas enrolled in STEM programs continue experiencing hostile environments in men-dominated spaces such as Engineering, even in Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) contexts. The primary focus of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program (named PIN for anonymity purposes) is to improve Latinx’ research skills while building strong connections with other peers. The PIN program, funded under the Broadening Participation in Engineering Program, seeks to encourage Latinx students to become involved in research activities in Engineering, where students can experience and perform research through hands-on activities. Student participants in the PIN program interact with their Engineering peers, graduate students, and faculty as they develop research and interpersonal skills. Other activities include attending workshops on academic and research topics as well as participating in outreach activities within the local community. The goal of this study is to gain insight into the experiences of undergraduate engineering students in their academic journeys and how the PIN program helped them in their personal, academic, and professional growth. The research questions addressed are What type of experiences did Latinx Engineering students go through in their academic programs at a specific HSI? And How did Latinx Engineering students boost their academic journeys by participating in the PIN program? The acts of resilience that these students have shown contribute to our understanding of their persistence and willingness to accomplish their college degrees. The Resilience Cycle by these authors [1, 2] guided this study. This theoretical framework demonstrates critical moments and decisions concerning the academic goals of at-risk students. The cycle has five stages that progressively show student educational resilience: 1) identifying needs/challenges; 2) acquiring protective factors; 3) working on excelling; 4) building self-efficacity; and 5) enduring motivation. The central aspect of such stages is shaped by students’ identities and how they interpret their experiences. The PIN program has had two student cohorts, the first in January, and the second in August 2022. The cohorts consisted of 18 students enrolled in different Engineering academic programs and student classifications from sophomore to senior. Student participants completed two surveys and participated in a set of interviews. Results from the quantitative component and findings from the qualitative portion found that 1) the competitiveness of Engineering often restrains students to interact with peers and creates a hostile climate for women and Latinas who are more able to communicate and work collaboratively. 2) The PIN program is a space for learning, gaining new skills, building community, and reinventing student science and cultural identity. Students agree that participating in the PIN program opens the horizon to other academic and professional paths. And 3) students reflect on their personal, academic, and professional learning in relation to their participation in the PIN program and how these changes have the potential to influence their career plans.

Contreras Aguirre, H. C., & Delgado, N., & Garcia Carrillo, L. R. (2023, June), Board 331: Latinx Engineering Students Surviving the Odds to Accomplish Their College Degree Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42932

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