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Developing Inclusive Engineers: Teaching Peer-Mentors Principles of Equity and Inclusion

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: RED 2 / Civil Eng

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Harper Ogle Clemson University

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Dr. Jennifer Ogle is a Professor in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University and a 2005 graduate of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. Her research focuses on transportation infrastructure design, safety, accessibility, and management. She also works on research with faculty in engineering education as the facilitator for the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments (RED) grant at Clemson. As a first-generation student and the first tenured female in her department, Dr. Ogle is an advocate for justice, equity, and inclusion in Civil Engineering. In 2012, she was recognized by President Obama as a Champion of Change for Women in STEM.

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Candice W. Bolding Clemson University

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Candice Bolding (CJ) is currently the Undergraduate Student Services Manager in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering and graduate student at Clemson University. She acts as a support to the undergraduate students in areas such as advising, programming, and registration. She also serves as the advisor to the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Council, which provides a voice for undergraduate students in the program and supervises department outreach student ambassadors. She currently sits on the department's Diversity and Outreach Committee and is a liaison for the department to the Office of the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies for the college.

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Jules Ava Lloyd Clemson University

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Juliann Lloyd works as a research assistant in the Civil Engineering Department at Clemson University. She is currently a participant in the BS/MS program and will graduate with a BS in Civil Engineering in May 2020. In August, she plans to begin a Ph.D. program in either Civil Engineering or Engineering Education. Juliann serves as a mentor in the department's CEMENT program, helps recruit new students while working as a Civil Engineering Ambassor and participates as a member of the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Council (CESAC).

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Logan C. Wade

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As part of an NSF RED grant, a peer mentor program was instituted in a medium-sized engineering department in the southeast, to attract and support students through a key transition point in the curriculum between general engineering and entry into the majors. As freshmen, underrepresented minorities and females are supported by the Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). However, these programs do not carry forward as students leave the common first year in General Engineering and move into their respective majors. Through involvement of junior and senior engineering students as peer mentors for incoming sophomore students in the engineering department, the mentoring program provides valuable one-on-one guidance and contributes positively to the engineering community.

The peer mentoring program was formulated to foster interaction role modeling and interdependencies among students. Studies show that such interactions and interdependencies foster students’ positive perceptions of their future selves in the profession (Benson et al., 2015). The peer mentoring program provides the opportunity to create motivational preferences for collaboration, and to foster personal motivation for academic achievement. Specifically, the program sought to determine: the change in students’ attitudes toward peer mentoring activities during their years of engineering study (from mentee to mentor); the ways in which participating in peer mentoring affects students’ satisfaction with program experiences (i.e., transition, belonging, and academic success); and their intent to remain in the program.

At its inception in the first year of the grant, the peer mentor program had seven mentors. Over the past two plus years, the program has grown significantly. Currently there are 25 active mentors, many of who were former mentees. The program is operating on a volunteer basis and credit is not provided to the mentees, so there is a wide range of level of involvement by mentees. Over the last two years, a significant effort has been devoted to enabling mentors to build individual effectiveness, understand the power of critical thinking and communication, and embrace their own ability to lead within the engineering community. Borrowing from the President’s Leadership Institute, the mentor training is designed to support and develop professional and personal leadership within a diverse and inclusive community of engineering students. The mentors are exposed to new ideas and participate in self-analysis and healthy discussion on a myriad of topics including: personal leadership skills, team building, conflict resolution, critical consciousness, diversity and inclusion, advocating, privilege, Title IX, and strategic change.

During the Fall 2018, 112 potential mentees were surveyed by email with a total of 53 responses. Of the 53 responses, 44 students (83%) participated in the program as mentees. Key measurements of the survey assessed the effectiveness of the program in the areas of transition, belonging, and academic success. Overall, the majority felt that the mentor program helped their transition into the engineering program and increased their sense of belonging in the major. While 41% percent of students felt that participation in the program positively contributed to their academic success. This paper provides a detailed description of the program, mentor learning outcomes, lessons learned, and additional programmatic outcomes.

Ogle, J. H., & Bolding, C. W., & Lloyd, J. A., & Wade, L. C. (2020, June), Developing Inclusive Engineers: Teaching Peer-Mentors Principles of Equity and Inclusion Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34429

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