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Diversity In Engineering Education What Are The Perceived Issues?

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Issues of Building Diversity

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.484.1 - 10.484.5



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Paper Authors

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Carla Purdy

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Mara Wasburn

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Diversity in Engineering Education--What Are the Perceived Issues?

Carla Purdy, University of Cincinnati ( Mara Wasburn, Purdue University (


At the Annual ASEE Conference in June 2004, three ASEE divisions--the Graduate Division, Women in Engineering, and Minorities in Engineering--co-sponsored a panel session on "Recruiting and Building Diversity". In this paper we summarize the issues raised by the panel members and by members of the audience in June 2004 as an introduction to a further discussion of diversity, along with a plan for action, by leading engineering educators. Issues of concern at the 2004 session included downsizing and consolidation of diversity programs, providing sufficient mentoring and role models, failure to institutionalize diversity programs, the disparity between students' and advisors' definitions of a "best fit" graduate program, the use of GRE scores in admission decisions, graduate student socialization, and the need for more information on career options early in students' college careers.

1. Introduction

The need for diversity at all levels of the engineering profession has been well-documented1,2,3,4. However, current enrollment figures for both undergraduate and graduate engineering programs show that, for the most part, women and minorities are still under-represented5. At many institutions, especially state-supported universities, tight budgets are forcing some diversity programs to downsize. In addition, at the graduate level, it is highly likely that diversity will also be negatively impacted by the decline in international students, which has been noted in recent years and seems to be continuing6. Thus to achieve the desired diversity new strategies must be developed.

Compared to the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, relatively little research has focused on specific strategies for diversifying the engineering graduate student population. In particular, relatively little research has examined the specific social and community needs of graduate students and how to support these needs in the traditional graduate education framework. Related questions about how best to support part-time graduate education and nontraditional students also need to be addressed. One promising ongoing study in this area was described in the panel session on “Recruiting and Building Diversity” cosponsored by the Graduate Division, Minorities in Engineering, and Women in Engineering at the 2004 ASEE Conference7. Results from this study should provide much useful information for faculty and administrators concerned about diversity in engineering graduate programs.

Questions and concerns raised by the audience at last year's panel discussion can be grouped into several general areas. These areas can highlight the concerns specific to graduate education and can provide a basis for faculty and administrators to develop effective strategies. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Purdy, C., & Wasburn, M. (2005, June), Diversity In Engineering Education What Are The Perceived Issues? Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14991

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015