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Designing for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Systems Engineering Education

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Design Across Curriculum 1

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Courtney C. Rogers University of Virginia

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Courtney Rogers is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on applying human factors engineering to complex public health issues. She received her undergraduate degree in global public health and Masters of Public Health from the University of Virginia and completed the Public Health Associate Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Rupa S. Valdez University of Virginia

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Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people manage health at home and in the community. Her research and teaching focuses on underserved populations, including populations that are racial/ethnic minorities, are of low socioeconomic status, or are living with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Her work draws heavily on community engagement and has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Kellogg Foundation, among others. She serves as Division Chair of Internal Affairs for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and as Associate Editor for Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) Open. She is the founder and president of Blue Trunk Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easier for people with chronic health conditions, disabilities, and age-related conditions to travel. Dr. Valdez lives with multiple chronic health conditions and disabilities, which have and continue to influence her work and advocacy.

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Technology is often thought to be unbiased; however, the views, perspectives, and experiences of designers are embedded in technology. These biases, whether conscious or unconscious, have resulted in technologies that have been particularly harmful for marginalized populations. One way to mitigate these biases is to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into engineering education, specifically within the domain of systems engineering and related fields that focus on designing systems for humans. This paper focuses on exploring the experiences of professionals in systems engineering and related fields that have integrated DEI into their work to provide recommendations for how DEI principles can be integrated into engineering education. Participants were recruited online and through snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews were completed with 15 participants either over the phone or on a video chat platform. These interviews were analyzed through inductive content analysis, which yielded three themes related to integrating DEI into systems engineering education: curriculum development, course design, and educator development. The results from this study align with recent calls in higher education to decolonize the curriculum. Beyond strategies like ensuring representation in class readings and changing course requirements, this study adds the need to educate students in methods like participatory design that aim to reduce power dynamics and incorporate diverse perspectives throughout the design process.

Rogers, C. C., & Valdez, R. S. (2021, July), Designing for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Systems Engineering Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36929

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