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Easing the Tortuous Road that Underrepresented Minorities Travel to Become Engineering Faculty

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.565.1 - 26.565.14



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Paper Authors


Teresa J. Cutright University of Akron

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Dr. Cutright is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at The University of Akron. She has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis on environmental remediation techniques. She has over 20 years of experience conducting site assessments, soil characterizations, and treatability studies for a variety of environmental contaminants. In addition, she also conducts education research via an EPA education grant and an NSF Scholarship for STEM education. Most recently she and her colleagues were awarded an NSF collaborative research grant to host workshops to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in engineering.

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Lakiesha N. Williams Mississippi State University

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Dr. Lakiesha Williams is an Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Mississippi State University. She was the first African American to obtain a graduate degree in Biological Engineering from LSU, the first African American to obtain a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from MSU, and the first female faculty member in her current academic department. Dr. Williams' research encompasses the biomechanics of soft tissues and the structure-function of energy mitigating materials to be used in the design of protective gear for soldiers and athletes.

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Linda T Coats


Debora F Rodrigues University of Houston (CoE)

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Debora F. Rodrigues received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology and Microbiology, respectively, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University in 2007. She was a postdoctoral associate in the Environmental Engineering Program at Yale University from 2007 to June 2010, with her research focus dealing with toxicity of carbon nanotubes to microorganisms, as well as the effect of bacterial surface structures on bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation and maturation. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and her research interests involve investigation of the toxicological effects of carbon-based nanomaterials and polymer nanocomposites to wastewater microbial communities and their potential applications for water treatment and corrosion prevention.

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Judit Eva Puskas


Frank "Fritz" J Claydon University of Houston (CoE)

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Dr. Claydon is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He serves as Director of the Honors Program and Student Success for Engineering Students at the University of Houston.

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Easing the Tortuous Road that Under-represented Minorities take to Be Engineering FacultyNumerous studies have been conducted on the issues facing underrepresentedminorities in engineering disciplines. However, very little has focused on theissues faced by underrepresented minorities that pursue a graduate degree or theneed for effective mentoring of post-docs and faculty in engineering to attract andretain them to pursue academic careers. Women and ethnic minorities do notpersist in academia as they often receive lower a salary, heavier teaching loads,less research support, and serve on more committees than their male counterparts.Although it is more pronounced at the faculty level, this leads to higher attritionrates at every level of career development, starting at the undergraduate level.We will present our approach and preliminary results of a National ScienceFoundation (NSF) sponsored workshop to broaden the participation ofunderrepresented engineering minorities from senior undergraduates to assistantprofessorship. The 1.5 day work shop will be held at three institutions: Universityof Akron (October 2014), University of Houston (May 2015), and MississippiState University (January 2015). The workshop will focus on areas thatunderrepresented minorities can readily address (awareness of what is needed inthe career, time management, teaching skills, etc.) as well as the skill set for earlynegotiations (equitable pay, work load, etc.), and a new network to expand theiropportunities. Each session in the workshop will use pre and post surveyquestions to evaluate what participants have learned. The overall effectiveness ofthe workshop will be evaluated by qualitative and quantitative methods.Conducting the workshops at three universities increases the number ofindividuals impacted, assists with assessment, and enables assessment to be broad(i.e., overall topics), as well as tailored for a specific underrepresented group. Theuse of three institutions will also demonstrate the ease of implementation at otheruniversities.  

Cutright, T. J., & Williams, L. N., & Coats, L. T., & Rodrigues, D. F., & Puskas, J. E., & Claydon, F. F. J. (2015, June), Easing the Tortuous Road that Underrepresented Minorities Travel to Become Engineering Faculty Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23903

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