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Engaging Freshmen Women in Research – Feedback from Students and Best Practices for 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

26.606.1 - 26.606.14



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Paper Authors


Terri Christiansen Bateman Brigham Young University

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Terri Bateman is adjunct faculty in the Brigham Young University College of Engineering and Technology where she has worked with Women in Engineering and Technology at BYU, numerous mechanical engineering capstone senior design teams, and the Compliant Mechanisms Research Group. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering from BYU and also worked at the Ford Motor Company as a manufacturing and design engineer in Automatic Transmission Operations.

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Lisa C Barrager Brigham Young University

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Lisa Barrager is the Assistant to the Dean and Coordinator of Women Student Initiatives for the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering & Technology at Brigham Young University. For the last 8 years, she has worked to better the environment and increase opportunities for women students interested in pursuing degrees in technology and engineering.
Barrager graduated BYU with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering and an M.B.A. from the Marriott School of Management. Her professional experience includes work in program management, strategy and marketing and business development for both large corporations and small engineering firms. Barrager spent 14 years in industry before returning to BYU. She currently serves as the Program coordinator for the WE@BYU – Women in Engineering Program, the co-advisor to BYU’s Society of Women Engineers student chapter, and is a member of the advisory board for the Women Technology Council.

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Rebecca Peterson Brigham Young University

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Peterson received her bachelor's in manufacturing engineering technology from Brigham Young University in 2013. She is currently a graduate student in manufacturing systems and will graduate this summer. Her research focuses on friction bit joining dissimilar metals for automotive applications. She is also involved in the women's programs in BYU's College of Engineering and Technology.

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Spencer P. Magleby Brigham Young University

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Professor Magleby is a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering and the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology.

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Engaging Freshmen Women in Research – Feedback from Students and Best Practices for Faculty  Significant research has been focused on increasing the participation of diverse populations inSTEM fields. Many researchers have specifically examined ways to improve recruitment andretention of women in engineering. NSF supported research indicates that “Women students thatparticipate more frequently in support activities are less likely to leave engineering than thosewho do not participate or participate less frequently.” (WECE Final Report, 2010) The objectiveof this paper is to report on lessons learned from a program that has been successful in engagingwomen students early in their engineering studies.The Research Mentorship program provides an experience-based award to freshmen andsophomore women students in the college of engineering and technology at Brigham YoungUniversity. The award, called a mentorship, is designed to place students in a laboratory settingunder the direction of a faculty member and with graduate student mentors. Faculty membersvolunteer as mentors, and students are expected to participate in their lab for approximately 5hours per week for an academic year. The mentorship comes with a stipend that is paid by thecollege from donor funds.The goal of the mentorship experience is to provide new women students with an opportunity tobe involved in research, connect with upperclassmen, form relationships with professors, andinstill confidence as they navigate their way through the challenges of obtaining an engineeringdegree. The ultimate objective of the program is to help retain women students in engineeringand technology majors.The paper provides a detailed description of the program, discusses the benefits and challengesencountered in implementing the program, and lessons learned while implementing andadministrating the program over the past five years. Based on student feedback and input, thepaper suggests best practices for both faculty mentors and student mentees, and summarizes thevalue of the Research Mentorship program to students’ overall academic success. Case studiesare used to demonstrate implementation and illustrate best practices.

Bateman, T. C., & Barrager, L. C., & Peterson, R., & Magleby, S. P. (2015, June), Engaging Freshmen Women in Research – Feedback from Students and Best Practices for Faculty Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23944

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: © 2015 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