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Building Diversity in Engineering Competition Teams by Modeling Industry Best-Practice

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

INDUSTRY DAY SESSION: CMC PANEL SESSION ONE

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Corporate Member Council

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

26.305.1 - 26.305.14

DOI

10.18260/p.23644

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23644

Download Count

56

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Paper Authors

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Rui (Celia) Pan University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Pan is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate in the Research Institute for STEM Education at the University of Oklahoma. She received her Ph.D in Engineering Education, M.S. in Statistics and B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

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Randa L. Shehab University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Randa L. Shehab is a professor and the Director of the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. She was recently appointed as Director of the Sooner Engineering Education Center dedicated to engineering education related initiatives and research focused on building diversity and enhancing the educational experience for all engineering students. Dr. Shehab teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in ergonomics, work methods, experimental design, and statistical analysis. Her current research is with the Research Institute for STEM Education, a multi-disciplinary research group investigating factors related to equity and diversity in engineering student populations.

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Cindy E Foor University of Oklahoma

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Cindy E. Foor is the Associate Director/Research Associate for the Research Institute for STEM Education
(RISE) at the University of Oklahoma. Her contribution to the multi-disciplinary team lies in
qualitative methodologies, cultural theory and the belief that outliers offer great insight into the workings
of power. Her research interests include cultural theory, the cultural/historical construction of women’s
identities and roles in past and present societies, and most recently, equity issues surrounding gender and
underrepresented populations in engineering education. She can be contacted at cynthia.e.foor-1@ou.edu.

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Deborah A. Trytten University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Deborah A. Trytten is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Womens' and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her main research focus is diversity in engineering education and introductory software engineering education.

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Susan E. Walden University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Susan E. Walden is the founding Director of the Research Institute for STEM Education (RISE) and an associate research professor in the Dean's office of the College of Engineering (CoE). She is also a founding member of the Sooner Engineering Education (SEED) Center.

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Abstract

Building Diversity in Engineering Competition Teams by Modeling Industry Best- PracticeEach year, thousands of students compete in student, experiential-learning, engineeringcompetition teams (SELECT) to practice and improve their engineering skills. SELECT attractstremendous resources from both industry and academia. Despite considerable efforts over thepast decades to recruit and retain women and minorities in engineering, female and minoritystudents still comprise a small portion of SELECT participants.This paper stems from a multi-year research project to identify and explain which factorscontribute to cultures of inclusion or exclusion among various SELECT. We used semi-structured interviews with local SELECT team members and also team members at nationalcompetitions to explore their motivations in joining the team and their experiences as teammembers. We found a team culture constructed around an extraordinary time commitmentcontributed to exclusion of students with significant work or family responsibilities. Othercultural elements limited the participation of women.In the next phase of the project, we constructed a survey to determine the generalizability ofthese findings and enhance our understanding of cultures within SELECT. Fifty-nine questionswere organized around topics such as team operations, leadership, team experiences andperceptions. We piloted the survey at a national competition to 30 students from 15 teamsrepresenting 15 universities. Almost all of the students (28 of 30) were majors in STEMdisciplines and most (22 of 30) were in mechanical engineering.Overall, the survey showed most teams have low participation of female and minority students,even when normalized for engineering enrollment. About two-thirds of the teams hadunderrepresentation of female students and just over half of the teams had underrepresentation ofminority students. We identified several factors that might be driving the low participation ofwomen and minorities. First, just over half of the respondents were recruited to the team throughinvitation by a friend who was already on the team, thus limiting membership to those in thenetwork of current or former team members. Second, almost all respondents said the primaryreason people left the team is because they couldn’t afford the time commitment. Specifically, 19of 30 team members reported spending more than 20 hours per week on team activities with 9team members working over 40 hours per week on team projects. In addition, many teamsexperienced minimal faculty advisor engagement, with 14 team members indicating that theiradvisors spent less than 1 hour per week with the team, with little opportunity to offer guidanceon team operations.To open SELECT to broader student participation, SELECT should follow industry best-practicefor equal opportunity in recruiting new team members and offering current team membersflexible work schedules. Industry should closely partner with sponsoring professionalorganizations to guide the development of policies and processes that are aligned with industrypractice. Faculty advisors should also be actively engaged in team mentoring to ensure thesuccessful implementation of those procedures. Leveraging academia-industry collaboration is astep towards building a team culture that is appealing to all students.

Pan, R. C., & Shehab, R. L., & Foor, C. E., & Trytten, D. A., & Walden, S. E. (2015, June), Building Diversity in Engineering Competition Teams by Modeling Industry Best-Practice Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23644

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015