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Board 41: WIP – Community of Practice as a Theory of Change for Infrastructure Education

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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

Civil Engineering Division (CIVIL) Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering Division (CIVIL)

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Paper Authors


Kristen L. Sanford P.E. Lafayette College Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kristen Sanford is an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lafayette College. Her expertise is in sustainable civil infrastructure management and transportation systems, and transportation and infrastructure education.

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Frederick Paige Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Frederick (“Freddy”) Paige is the founder of the STILE (Society, Technology, Infrastructure, and Learning Environments) Research Group, Assistant Director of the Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR), an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech in the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program, and a co-founder of Virginia Tech Digging in the Crates (VTDITC). Starting as a student member of ASCE in 2010, Dr. Paige is now a full member of MOSAIC (Members of Society Advancing an Inclusive Culture). Dr. Paige’s main scholarship goal is to create the knowledge needed to develop an informed public that lives in a sustainable built environment. Previous work with a variety of utility companies, sustainability non-profits, and educational institutions has provided Dr. Paige with a versatile toolkit of knowledge and skills needed to address a diverse range of civil engineering issues. His main area of scholarship is high-efficiency homes and sustainable communities. Dr. Paige completed his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Clemson University, where he also received his M.S. and B.S. degrees in Civil Engineering. Some of Freddy’s favorite things to do are: traveling with his partner Hannah, playing basketball, creating music, or eating with family. Freddy encourages you to read, think critically, laugh, and make dope vibrations in the world.

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Philip J. Parker P.E. University of Wisconsin - Platteville

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Philip Parker, Ph.D., P.E., is Program Coordinator for the Environmental Engineering program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He is co-author of the textbook "Introduction to Infrastructure" published in 2012 by Wiley. He has helped lead the

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Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez Colorado State University

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Dr. Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University. His research, teaching, and engagement align with sustainable design and construction topics. He has received grant funding from federal and state agencies and private organizations. Rodolfo has taught multiple courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and he is well-versed in the scholarship of teaching. His efforts in leading the Sustainable Buildings program were recognized with the 2019 Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design. He has also worked as a construction project engineer, consultant, and safety inspector. He believes that educating the next generation of professionals will play a pivotal role in sustainability standard practices.

In terms of engagement, Dr. Valdes-Vasquez has served as the USGBC student club's adviser and the ASC Sustainability Team's faculty coach since 2013. He is currently serving as a CSU President's Sustainability Commission member, among multiple other committees. In addition, he is involved with various professional organizations at the national level, including the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the Associated School of Constructions (ASC), the Construction Research Congress (CRC), and the Center for Infrastructure Transformation and Education (CIT-E). At the international level, he serves as the Associate Editor for the ASC International Journal of Construction Education and Research. He collaborates with faculty members in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Spain.

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A national faculty Community of Practice (CoP) has created a model course for undergraduate infrastructure education as a part of its shared agenda. This CoP has collectively defined the domain of knowledge for undergraduate introductory infrastructure education; co-created and peer-reviewed more than 40 complete lessons for an introductory infrastructure course; shared best practices and resources among members; and provided mentorship to newer members adopting or adapting the materials. The Center for Infrastructure Transformation and Education (CIT-E) considers infrastructure as a system rather than a collection of unrelated structural/environmental/transportation components; even more importantly, this system is conceived of as a social-technical system that must be designed with equity and justice factors prioritized to include the diversity of users’ lived experiences. To that end, CoP members have recently produced learning materials on Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) in infrastructure provision. The operationalizing of CoP as a theory of change by CIT-E has emerged beyond the initial National Science Foundation (NSF) funding a decade ago, employing various change strategies. Example strategies include expanding membership and creating alternative educational practices to support change and transformation. Recent NSF funding and new membership have created opportunities for the CoP to lead change at a much broader level across civil and environmental engineering education in the U.S. As part of this work, we conducted semi-structured interviews with seven change leaders in engineering education and DEIJ. We asked their perspectives on community of practice as a theory of change and whether it is appropriate for this work. Their responses were coded, revealing 169 codes, some of which advisors agreed upon, and many representing alternative perspectives. Processes such as considering, accepting, asking, and acknowledging are easy to overlook while executing change through mentoring, funding, and doing. The results of this work are helpful for civil and environmental engineering (CEE) faculty members interested in operationalizing change in their classroom and on their campus to meet ABET’s relatively recent DEI criteria, and the process in this study is transferrable to other fields that are also mobilizing transformative practices for integrating DEIJ principles into their curricula.

Sanford, K. L., & Paige, F., & Parker, P. J., & Valdes-Vasquez, R. (2023, June), Board 41: WIP – Community of Practice as a Theory of Change for Infrastructure Education Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42720

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