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Building Science Identity Among First-Year Engineering Students Through a Community-Based Project

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Architectural Engineering Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Rania Al-Hammoud University of Waterloo

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Dr. Al-Hammoud is a Faculty lecturer in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Al-Hammoud has a passion for teaching where she continuously seeks new technologies to involve students in their learning process. She is actively involved in the Ideas Clinic, a major experiential learning initiative at the University of Waterloo. She is also responsible for developing a process and assessing graduate attributes at the department to target areas for improvement in the curriculum. This resulted in several publications in this educational research areas.
Dr. Al-Hammoud won the "Ameet and Meena Chakma award for exceptional teaching by a student” in 2014 and the "Engineering Society Teaching Award" in 2016 and the "Outstanding Performance Award" in 2018 from University of Waterloo. Her students regard her as an innovative teacher who continuously introduces new ideas to the classroom that increases their engagement.

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Andrea Jonahs University of Waterloo


Vaishnavi Pasalkar University of Waterloo

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Miss. Vaishnavi Pasalkar is a 3A Architectural Engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. As an undergraduate student, Miss. Pasalkar is passionate about learning, constantly seeking new opportunities to better her understanding. She is actively involved in Women in Engineering at the university, an organization that focuses on fostering interest in engineering for women-identifying individuals. She has also been involved in both the Warrior Home design team as well as Engineers Without Borders. Miss. Pasalkar has gained hands-on industry experience through various co-op opportunities in the industry, such as AutoCAD drafting ACM panel systems at Sobotec and conducting construction inspections for Rail and Transit Systems at WSP. She hopes to continue expanding her knowledge by always striving for excellence in various areas both academically and professionally.

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This research aims to provide insight on the impact of course assignments on a students’ “engineering identity,” a term that aims to capture one’s sense of being an “engineering person” and belonging to the field of engineering. Past research has shown that a strong engineering identity and sense of belonging are important factors for students to persevere and thrive in engineering, both academically and professionally. Research suggests that underrepresented groups, such as women and racialized students, may feel less of a sense of belonging and identity within engineering. By understanding how first-year engineering instructors can build science identity among women and racialized students through the introduction of a community-based learning project, coursework and the curriculum can be structured in such a manner that supports the students’ sense of belonging and connection to the field of engineering. In the community-based learning course project, first-year University of Waterloo architectural, civil, environmental, and geological engineering students were required to teach mechanics concepts to Grade 7 and 8 students, while focusing on how engineers benefit society through these concepts. By encouraging students to make this connection, students should be more inclined to further pursue engineering once they realize the importance of it to society. At the end of the project, students were asked to reflect on their experiences using reflection reports and focus group discussions. The results illustrate a significant increase of interest, sense of belonging and confidence in their competent abilities from the engineering students, especially among females and racialized students.

Al-Hammoud, R., & Jonahs, A., & Pasalkar, V. (2022, August), Building Science Identity Among First-Year Engineering Students Through a Community-Based Project Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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