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Developing Contextual Social Awareness in Engineering: Placing Human Diversity and Social Justice at the Center of the Engineering Process

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Perspectives and Evaluation of Engineering Design Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

24

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34428

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34428

Download Count

102

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Paper Authors

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Greses Pérez Stanford University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4737-0888

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Greses Pérez-Jöhnk is an engineer, educator, and a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University in engineering education, Science Education and Learning Sciences and Technology Design. Her research interests include the education of Black and Brown students, especially those from immigrant communities, in the fields of engineering and science. In addition to her ongoing work on culturally relevant VR science teaching, Greses seeks to understand issues of diversity and inclusion in engineering. Specifically, she investigates how language influences who engages in the technical fields. She was recently awarded the Stanford DARE fellowship. Globally, she is part of the Galapagos research-practice partnership that seeks to improve the teaching of science for underserved communities through education for sustainability. Before coming to Stanford, she was a bilingual educator at Plano ISD. In Plano, she served in the Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee and the Elementary Curriculum Design team. Prior to starting her career in education, Greses was a project manager for engineering programs funded by the European nonprofits in the Caribbean. She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Santo Domingo Technological Institute, a M.Eng. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, and a M.Ed. in School Leadership from Southern Methodist University.

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Patrick Marcel Danner Technical University of Munich

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Patrick Danner is a graduate student in Chemistry M.Sc. and Technology & Management M.Sc. at the Technical University of Munich and a Visiting Graduate Researcher at Stanford University. His research interests are at the intersection of science, technology transfer, biases and diversity in design and start-up context. His previous work before Stanford, includes research on novel 2D nano-materials, research in the field of catalysis as well as investment analyst at an early-stage venture capital fund.

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Shannon Katherine Gilmartin Stanford University

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Shannon K. Gilmartin, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scholar at the Stanford VMware Women's Leadership Innovation Lab and Adjunct Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She is also Managing Director of SKG Analysis, a research consulting firm. Her expertise and interests focus on education and workforce development in engineering and science fields. Previous and current clients include the American Chemical Society, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, California Institute of Technology, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at California State University Fullerton, the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford University, the School of Medicine at Stanford University, and the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Carol B. Muller Stanford University

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Carol B. Muller is the Executive Director of WISE Ventures, an internal initiative at Stanford located in the Office of Faculty Development, designed to communicate, build networks, and help amplify existing and seed new and needed ventures across the Stanford campus to advance equity in science and engineering. She also serves as executive director for Stanford’s Faculty Women’s Forum. A longtime university administrator, educator, and social entrepreneur, she served as Associate Dean for Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, where she co-founded the campus-wide Women in Science Project in 1990. She founded and served as chief executive of MentorNet, a large-scale online nonprofit global mentoring network advancing diversity in engineering and science (1996-2008). At Stanford, she was consulting associate professor of mechanical engineering between 1998 and 2002, collaborating with faculty and staff to create “New Century Scholars: Teaching, Learning, and Your Academic Career,” a summer workshop designed for new engineering faculty members. A Fellow of the Association for Women in Science, Dr. Muller and her work have been recognized with other national awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, and the Anita Borg Social Impact Award. She has authored and presented numerous papers, presentations, and workshops. She earned a bachelors degree from Dartmouth (majoring in philosophy), and masters and Ph.D. degrees in education administration and policy analysis at Stanford, and continues to build upon research in the design and implementation of programs.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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Abstract

Developing Contextual Social Awareness in Engineering: Placing human diversity and social justice at the Center of the Engineering Process

Abstract

Can a deeper understanding of human diversity improve engineering processes and outcomes? If so, can we teach these social dimensions within the timeframe of a course? A predominant focus on technical aspects in the teaching and learning of engineering coupled with cultural stereotypes of who can become an engineer leave many at the margins of the field rather than at the center of it. This research paper investigates how participation in the ENGR-Diversity course may build students’ awareness of social aspects in engineering. Through an examination of students’ design considerations, we provide empirical data to two research questions (1) To what extent do students consider social issues in design problems? (2) What are the changes, if any, in students’ social awareness after they participate in a course experience on culture, diversity, and equity in engineering communities?

Participants included 74 students at a university in California enrolled in the course during the 2019 winter quarter. Through a mixed-methods approach, we investigated how culture and diversity shape engineering work. Data sources included students’ responses to the Palo Alto Flooding Problem, an exercise inspired by the well-known Midwest Flooding Problem by Atman and colleagues. The problem was administered at the beginning (pretest) and end of the course (posttest).

The research team undertook analyses of overall responses, segments, and Contextual Social Awareness (CSA) segments. Through a two-tailed paired t-test of students’ responses and a two-way analysis of variance of groups’ change on CSA segments, we examine the extent to which students considered social issues in their responses and their changes in social awareness. Our findings suggest that engineers will consider the lived experiences of people and their communities in their work when they become aware of the role of broader societal issues in engineering, thereby opening up possibilities for more equitable solutions. Reported results suggest that students can change their design considerations about social issues in engineering within a short time frame.

The proposed binary Contextual Social Awareness (CSA) expands the scope and depth of the classic MWF framework. The CSA adds valuable insights for researchers and educators into the nature of responses. The most interesting insights of this work resulted from centering the user's voices by closely investigating the original quotes from students. This study is a further example that it is always worthwhile to invest time to deeply understand the participants, especially when it comes to engineering design.

Pérez, G., & Danner, P. M., & Gilmartin, S. K., & Muller, C. B., & Sheppard, S. (2020, June), Developing Contextual Social Awareness in Engineering: Placing Human Diversity and Social Justice at the Center of the Engineering Process Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34428

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