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Diversity and Inclusion in Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering Education

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechatronics and Robotics I

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Christopher Pannier University of Michigan-Dearborn Orcid 16x16

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Christopher Pannier is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. His research is in the application of control theory to additive and other advanced manufacturing processes to improve performance, reliability, and sustainability. He received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University.

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Carlotta A. Berry Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Carlotta A. Berry is a professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She is the director of the multidisciplinary minor in robotics and co-director of the Rose building undergraduate diversity scholarship and professional development program. She has been the President of the Technical Editor Board for the ASEE Computers in Education Journal since 2012. She is a member of ASEE, IEEE, NSBE, and Eta Kappa Nu.

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Melissa Morris Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Melissa is an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the Department of Engineering and Technology of the College of Aeronautics. She is specialized in mechatronics and robotics and also has a deep interest in promoting STEAM education rounded with professional skills and ethics. She earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Florida International University, MS in Mechanical Engineering with Bionengineering from Florida Atlantic University, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University. She has industry experience with the Ford Motor Company of Europe and the Sensormatic Corporation. She also has experience at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Florida Polytechnic University, and automotive and robotic companies in the Detroit area.

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Xiaopeng Zhao University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Dr. Xiaopeng Zhao is a professor of mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received BS and MS degrees in engineering mechanics in 1996 and 1999 respectively from Tsinghua University, China. He received Ph.D. in engineering science and mechanics in 2004 from Virginia Tech. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate in biomedical engineering at Duke University in 2005-2007. Dr. Zhao joined the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2007 and has become a full professor since 2019.

Dr. Zhao’s research interest is focused on computational neuroscience and brain-computer interface. Dr. Zhao is a recipient of National Science Foundation CAREER award. His group has developed award-winning algorithms for physiological signal analysis and enhancement. Dr. Zhao has developed EEG-based diagnosis methods for detection of early Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. He has also designed and developed EEG-based brain computer interface platforms for neurorehabilitation and neurofeedback.

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It is well-known that women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM fields. This is true of mechatronics and robotics engineering (MRE), despite targeted K-12 activities, such as the FIRST Robotics Competition, that aim to increase diversity in engineering. This paper is a first step in assessing the current status of women and underrepresented minorities (URM) as well as investigating solutions to increase diversity and support inclusion of these groups specifically in MRE. The paper examines challenges and potential solutions identified in The 4th Future of Mechatronics and Robotics Education and in an online survey of the MRE college instructor community. Survey participants reported on courses, programs, clubs, and outreach events at the college level. The sample size is small, but the data provide initial findings to inform further study. Qualitative text analysis was used with the survey data. Five themes emerged, ordered from most frequent to least: the instructor’s perspective, social context of MRE, specific attributes of MRE, pre-college interventions, and in-college interventions. The most promising new ideas are in curriculum reform to incorporate social context into engineering education and in expanding STEM outreach by colleges to elementary and middle schools. Existing programs should also be strengthened, including robotics competitions, NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates, STEM summer camps, bridge programs, and affinity programs. Other important aspects include actively engaging parents, and working to be more inclusive of first-generation Americans and first-generation college students. The paper concludes with initial suggestions to increase diversity and inclusion in MRE and areas for further study.

Pannier, C., & Berry, C. A., & Morris, M., & Zhao, X. (2020, June), Diversity and Inclusion in Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34471

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