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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Civil and Environmental Engineering Education: Social Justice in a Changing Climate

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Development Around Diversity

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

25

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36988

Download Count

646

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Paper Authors

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Daniel Erian Armanios

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Sarah Jane Christian P.E. Carnegie Mellon University

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Sarah Christian serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Sarah earned her BS in Civil Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2003, MCE at Johns Hopkins University in 2004 and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Structural Engineering and Materials at Stanford University in 2009. Sarah has practiced as a structural engineer and building envelope engineer in Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh. She previously served as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Sarah teaches courses in Structural Engineering, Materials, Soil Mechanics, and Design. Sarah is passionate about curricular redesign to prepare students to be successful in the changing field and developing new design and laboratory courses intended to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills through experiential learning. As a 2021-2022 Provost's Inclusive Teaching Fellow, Sarah will be working to improve social-consciousness of engineering students through changes to the CEE capstone design course.

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Andrea Francioni Rooney Carnegie Mellon University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1425-8702

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Andrea Francioni Rooney is the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. She serves as an academic advisor for undergraduate students and works closely with faculty on the undergraduate curriculum. She also teaches professional writing courses for the department.

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Millard L. McElwee Exponent

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Millard McElwee is an engineering and tech scholar who draws upon his education and industry experience in electrical utilities, offshore mooring, and large-scale transportation systems to provide innovative solutions to various energy sectors. Millard is a licensed contractor (highways, roads, and bridges) in his home state of Louisiana. He currently resides in Oakland, CA and is working at Exponent as an Associate in their Building and Structures Practice. Millard recently finished a PhD in Civil Systems at UC Berkeley (2021) after graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (2015) and a MEng in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley (2016). He was a National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Community Resilience (2016-2018). Millard teaches summer STEM courses at Carnegie Mellon and Rice University focused on machine learning applications to civil engineering problems. His research interests are at the intersection of environmental justice, transportation simulation, natural hazards, and machine learning.

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Joe Dallas Moore Carnegie Mellon University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5739-2218

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Joe teaches across the environmental engineering program at Carnegie Mellon University. He first taught science at the high school level through Teach For America in Chicago Public Schools. He earned his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University with funding from an NSF GRFP. He is passionate about training interdisciplinary engineers, engaging students in active learning, and mentoring.

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Destenie Nock Carnegie Mellon University

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Dr. Destenie Nock is an Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Engineering and Public Policy (EPP). Her research is focused on applying optimization and decision analysis tools to evaluate the sustainability, equity, and reliability of power systems in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. One of her current NSF-funded projects include developing a framework for understanding the sustainability and equity trade-offs for different power plant investments. Another project involves quantifying the air pollution emissions associated with electric transmission and distribution systems. Dr. Nock holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and an Offshore Wind Energy IGERT Fellow. She earned a MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development at Queen's University of Belfast, and two BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Math at North Carolina A&T State University.

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Constantine Samaras Carnegie Mellon University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8803-2845

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Constantine (Costa) Samaras is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His research spans energy, climate change, automation, and defense analysis. He analyzes how energy technology and infrastructure system designs affect energy use and national security, resilience to climate change impacts, economic and equity outcomes, and life cycle environmental emissions and other externalities.

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Gerald J. Wang Carnegie Mellon University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0631-011X

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Jerry Wang is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering (by courtesy) and Chemical Engineering (by courtesy), at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his BS in 2013 from Yale University (Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics and Physics), SM in 2015 from MIT (Mechanical Engineering), and PhD in 2019 from MIT (Mechanical Engineering and Computation). He performed postdoctoral research at MIT in Chemical Engineering. He is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Provost's Inclusive Teaching Fellowship at CMU, was the 2020 recipient of the Frederick A. Howes Scholar Award in Computational Science and the 2016 MIT Graduate Teaching Award in the School of Engineering, and is an alumnus of the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship and the Tau Beta Pi Graduate Fellowship.

Wang directs the Mechanics of Materials via Molecular and Multiscale Methods Laboratory (M5 Lab) at CMU, which focuses on computational micro- and nanoscale mechanics of fluids, soft matter, and active matter, with applications in Civil and Environmental Engineering across the nexus of water, energy, sustainable materials, and urban livability. The M5 Lab is particularly interested in particle-based simulations, systems out of equilibrium, uncertainty quantification in molecular simulations, and high-performance computing. He teaches courses in molecular simulation and computational/data science.

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Abstract

Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) has a direct impact on communities and on individual lives. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must be an integral part of that work. CEE educational programs need to prepare students not only with the knowledge to tackle technical challenges, but also with the historical and cultural perspectives and critical thinking skills to bolster and center social justice in CEE endeavors. This includes not just the communities affected by our work but also the web of institutional relationships that influence our engineering options and decisions.

In this paper, we describe the broad-spectrum efforts of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University to interweave DEI principles and practice in our pedagogy and culture. We discuss specific curriculum development and redesign efforts, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, which empower our students to reason critically about inclusive and equitable engineering. These efforts focus on identifying and combating inequities associated with race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, and intersections thereof. We also detail the creation of, and activities spearheaded by, our departmental DEI committee.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has begun to address issues of DEI within courses, research, outreach, and department culture. The Department established a DEI Committee, composed of faculty, staff, and students. This committee has the responsibility of examining and correcting institutional biases and to improve understanding and experience for all within the Department through, for example, active dialogue within the Department, seminars, and actions.

We have also incorporated this work into our classrooms. These efforts have sought to both inform our students and empower them to make a difference, especially in communities that have been negatively impacted by a history of racially-biased infrastructure and environmental decisions. In the fall of 2020, instructors began to deliberately confront issues of DEI in multiple courses in different ways, including class discussions, team projects, problem sets, and writing assignments. These efforts include discussions of how civil engineering projects are linked to inequitable pollution concentrations, lack of access, mass incarceration, and displacement of low income communities. We have used readings to investigate the social cost of not considering social justice in investment decisions and have engaged in design and build projects to contribute to the revitalization of historically-underserved communities. We have also developed exercises to identify prominent non-white or non-male-identifying engineers who have played important roles in engineering science and practice. Through this work our goal is to equip students with the ability to think critically about how they can make change within their own institutional systems and in their future careers.

Finally, distilling our collective experiences, we offer a list of recommendations and best practices, which we hope will nucleate future DEI discussions and initiatives throughout the CEE community.

Armanios, D. E., & Christian, S. J., & Francioni Rooney, A., & McElwee, M. L., & Moore, J. D., & Nock, D., & Samaras, C., & Wang, G. J. (2021, July), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Civil and Environmental Engineering Education: Social Justice in a Changing Climate Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/36988

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