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Campus Climate for Engineering Graduate Students: Examining Differences Between Domestic Minority, Domestic Majority, and International Students

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Graduate Education Track - Technical Session V

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Graduate Education

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Paper Authors


Thomas M. Bluestein Virginia Tech

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Mr. Bluestein is currently a Ph.D. student in Higher Education at Virginia Tech, where he is a graduate assistant in the College of Engineering's Research and Graduate Studies team. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction from James Madison University.

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Catherine T. Amelink Virginia Tech

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Dr. Amelink is Director of Graduate Programs and Assessment in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, where she is also an affiliate faculty member in the departments of Engineering Education and Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

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Mayra S. Artiles Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education Orcid 16x16

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Mayra S. Artiles is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She has a B.S. in
Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and an M.S. in Mechanical
Engineering from Purdue University with a focus on nanotechnology. Before her joining the Ph.D.
program, she worked at Ford Motor Company as an Electrified Vehicles Thermal Engineer for four years.
Her current research focuses on understanding the role of institutional policies in doctoral student support.

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Graduate degree attainment is impacted by a variety of personal and environmental factors. Recent studies have called attention to cultural and demographic characteristics that can impact the degree attainment of various subsets of the engineering graduate student body. Studies have shown that international students in STEM disciplines enter into graduate school with different expectations for faculty advisor support and peer interaction. At the same time, international graduate students face cultural and identity issues as they transition to an educational environment in the United States. Research has also highlighted differences between domestic racial and ethnic minority graduate students and white domestic majority peers in terms of feelings of a sense of belonging. STEM disciplines that are looking to build an inclusive climate need information that can inform support programs for students and faculty training that addresses the needs of many different majority and minority student populations, both domestic and international. This paper will discuss findings of a recent climate survey conducted in a College of Engineering at a Research I institution that confirm earlier research, pointing to differences in international and domestic student expectations for faculty and student interactions. Findings also highlight differences between majority and minority domestic engineering graduate students with regard to personal support networks and how they impact graduate school success. Results from open-ended survey items provide additional detail about cultural factors that impact international students’ graduate experiences. Faculty and university administrators can use the results of this study to consider programmatic interventions that can build an inclusive climate that addresses the needs of many sub-sets of the graduate student population and can help facilitate graduate degree attainment.

Bluestein, T. M., & Amelink, C. T., & Artiles , M. S. (2018, April), Campus Climate for Engineering Graduate Students: Examining Differences Between Domestic Minority, Domestic Majority, and International Students Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia.

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