New Orleans, Louisiana
February 20, 2022
February 20, 2022
July 20, 2022
Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions
Keywords: engineering, pre-college, faculty, socio-economic status Title: Combining Forces: Putting Equity to Work There is a growing body of literature highlighting the importance of team diversity to improve innovation and work-group performance. K-12 outreach programs are a crucial part of diversifying the college STEM pipeline. However, this interest results in multiple programs being developed with overlapping missions, often with little communication between programs. In many higher education institutions, outreach efforts, mentorship, and recruitment of diverse students are often decentralized and siloed, resulting in an inefficient use of resources and difficulties in maintaining program longevity. Thus, it is not clear how effective these well intentioned programs are at advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging within departments, colleges and schools, and across campus. For example, within the College of Engineering (COE) at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) a myriad of programs have been implemented by individual faculty with duplication of efforts and a minimal increase in representation of diverse candidates in our undergraduate and graduate student populations. To foster multi-disciplinary and departmental collaborations, COE at UCB established a Faculty Engagement Fund (FEF) to centralize support and resources for the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The objectives include: (1) assist COE faculty with the administrative burden of accessing and spending funds on DEI activities while developing outreach ideas to maximize impact; (2) encourage faculty to partner with each other and existing programs; (3) track and measure the impact of COE efforts; and (4) help faculty strengthen their research proposals to external agencies. Since the program’s inception, the FEF has served seven faculty and one department in the development of proposals to advance DEI initiatives totaling approximately half a million dollars. These initiatives spanned K-12 and college level programming. In this abstract, we highlight the data-driven and collaborative approach undertaken by faculty and staff in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) at UC Berkeley to develop a coordinated department-wide DEI outreach program that connects individual activities and addresses current gaps in the pipeline. Prior to the submission of the ME department-wide DEI proposal in 2020, outreach activities were conducted using a fragmented faculty member approach. Many faculty members participated in various K-12 and university-level outreach programs, including, but not limited to, Girls in Engineering, First Robotics, ME Rising Stars, or developed their own outreach program. With interest in the development of a synergistic and coordinated approach to advance DEI in ME, department leadership deployed a few strategies. The first approach was the establishment of a new position, ME Vice Chair of Equity and Inclusion. Under the leadership of the ME Vice Chair, the department deployed a second approach: leverage project management tools to assess the current state of outreach activities and identify a desired future state e.g., a gap analysis. Their analysis highlighted current activities and programs, gaps in the outreach activities in the pipeline from middle school through graduate school, and potential opportunities to connect and build a more cohesive department wide strategy. To better understand the impact of their previous outreach efforts, they analyzed admissions data. Using a data-driven approach, the faculty in the ME department, with diverse research expertise and interests, developed a coordinated department-wide DEI outreach program with an aim to connect individual activities and address current gaps in the pipeline.
This new initiative was designed to serve K-12 students and teach them and their teaching staff about diverse careers in mechanical engineering. Specifically, a gap was identified with respect to outreach programs in local (i.e., San Francisco Bay Area) and California-based high schools. With equity and access as core principles of this work, the ME department deployed a multi-prong approach: (1) development and execution of professional development opportunities for graduate students and high school teachers, (2) increase high-school student awareness and access to information about mechanical engineering careers and hands-on activities, and (3) enhance recruitment efforts throughout California to fulfill UC Berkeley’s commitment as a land grant institution to serve Californians. In response to online instruction due to COVID-19, ME faculty developed and mailed hands-on kits to replace in-person laboratories for the undergraduate curriculum. The approach transformed the college laboratory experience during online learning and was employed for K-12 outreach programs. To do this, graduate students were mentored through development of hands-on ‘kits’ to be used in high school science curriculum (e.g., physics or chemistry). To improve adoption of the kit in the classroom, a focus group including six high school science instructors was assembled. Instructors were identified from under resourced schools in cities neighboring Berkeley, including Richmond and Oakland, and, by leveraging relationships of our current undergraduate student body, a charter school in Southern California. All partner schools serve a higher percentage of Black and Latinx students, which is part of the student population the COE would like to recruit for its undergraduate and graduate programs.
Alleyne, F., & Vides, R., & O'Connell, G. D. (2022, February), Combining Forces: Putting Equity to Work Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/39107
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