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Community: Voices from a Small Cohort

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Monica Lauren Singer AmeriCorps VISTA

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Monica Singer is an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives within engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. There she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Gender, Race, Culture, Science & Technology and Child Development. She is currently a research assistant in the Advancing Cultural Change lab on campus studying students’ experiences of bias in STEM. Her research interests include masculinity, STEM equity, and implicit bias in academia.

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Lizabeth T. Schlemer California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Lizabeth is an Associate Dean and a professor at Cal Poly, SLO in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. In her role of Associate Dean, she advocates for equity and access. She has been teaching for 22 years and has continued to develop innovative pedagogy such as project based, flipped classroom and competency grading. Through the SUSTAIN SLO learning initiative, she and her colleagues have been active researching in transformation in higher education.

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Emily E. Liptow California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Emily Liptow currently works at a tech startup accelerator in Cleveland OH where she manages a coworking space and promotes community and diversity in the city's entrepreneurship ecosystem. She served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where she was involved with a variety of diversity and inclusion efforts in the College of Engineering ranging from student support programs, faculty bias awareness trainings, and inclusive cultural change. Prior to her work at Cal Poly, received a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University, where she was also very involved with social justice initiatives.

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Katherine C. Chen Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Dr. Katherine C. Chen is the Executive Director of the STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Her degrees in Materials Science and Engineering are from Michigan State University and MIT. Her research interests include pre-college engineering education and equity in education.

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PEEPS (Program for Engineering Excellence for Partner Schools) NSF S-STEM scholarship was designed to support students from low socioeconomic, first generation and/or underrepresented groups in obtaining an undergraduate engineering degree at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). Students receive up to $10,000/year to aid in paying tuition, housing or other school expenses. The program was modeled after the Posse Foundation cohort model. At our university, student cohorts are formed by scheduling them into engineering major and support courses together. Students also engaged in monthly advising sessions, tutoring services, engineering success courses, group socials and engineering outreach activities.

There is a total of 13 students in two cohorts. These students are currently in their 3rd and 4th year at the university. Last spring, we interviewed each student individually to see if we could learn from their experiences. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for themes. There is much in the interviews, but we discuss the findings using Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth model. We discuss the role of financial support, navigating a predominantly white institution (navigational capital), a smoother transition into university life (Social Capital), peers as social support (Social Capital), and aspiring to make a social impact (Resistance Capital).

It is our hope that this paper gives voice to these students who have brought with them assets as they maneuver this predominately white institution. It is our hope the insights from this paper will help all of us develop support structures that will transform our institutions and others like it.

Singer, M. L., & Schlemer, L. T., & Liptow, E. E., & Chen, K. C. (2018, June), Community: Voices from a Small Cohort Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30204

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