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Conocimientos and the borderlands of identity from Mexican American women in Engineering and Computer Science (Work in Progress)

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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

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Norma Garza The University of Texas at Arlington

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Norma E. Garza is a Ph.D. student in experimental psychology at The University of Texas at Arlington. Her research projects and interests include attitudes toward immigrants and immigration, acculturative stress, bi-cultural identity, right-wing authoritarianism, nationalism, patriotism, underrepresented students in higher education, Latinas in STEM fields, voter turnout, and political efficacy. After graduation, Norma would like to continue working in a higher education institution, ideally as a professor, but she is open to other positions as well. She aspires to be a source of mentorship for students while conducting research related to her interests.

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Sarah Rodriguez Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Sarah L. Rodriguez is soon to be an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her engineering education research agenda centers upon engineering and computing identity development of historically marginalized populations at higher education institutions. Currently, Dr. Rodriguez is involved with several large-scale interdisciplinary research projects focused on institutional environments and STEM identity development are sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Kapor Center. In recent years, she was selected as an Early Career Awardee and Faculty Fellow with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and a NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader. She also received the Barbara Townsend Early Career Scholar Award by the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) and gave the distinguished ASHE-CAHEP Barbara Townsend Lecture. To learn more about her current projects, visit

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The purpose of this study was to examine how Mexican American women in engineering and computer science utilized Anzaldúa’s borderlands of identity and Conocimientos to successfully navigate between Mexican American cultures and engineering and computer science cultures. Understanding how they navigate their journeys through engineering and computer science will encourage scholars to create education spaces and structures to heal students and communities within higher education. Using secondary analysis, preliminary findings show that Mexican American women students experienced different stages of Conocimientos during their engineering and computer science journeys, as well as borderlands of identity. Several of the participants experienced el arrebato and Nepantla as they experienced life-changing events in their educational pursuits and at times felt split between their obligations as a "good Mexican American daughter" and their duties as a student. Finally, many of the Mexican American students experienced later stages (el compromiso and blow-up) when discussing their future goals, with many of them wanting to utilize their Conocimientos and their engineering and computer science technical skills to give back to their communities.

Garza, N., & Rodriguez, S. (2022, August), Conocimientos and the borderlands of identity from Mexican American women in Engineering and Computer Science (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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