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Engineer of 2020 Attributes and the Black Male Future Engineer: A Review of Literature

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Developing Identities for Robust Careers in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


DeLean Tolbert Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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DeLean Tolbert is an Engineering Education doctoral candidate at Purdue University. She earned a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan–Dearborn and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan. Through her dissertation, DeLean investigates the ways that Black boys develop Engineer of 2020 attributes in their precollege out-of-school time lived experiences. This work will serve as a foundation for her future research, through which she anticipates exploring how ethnically diverse students apply these attributes to engineering tasks in both formal and informal settings.

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Monica E Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monica E. Cardella is the Director of the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering Education and is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Historically, the United States of America has been an innovative and technically proficient forerunner. This position is threatened as the country’s ability to develop competitive quantities of engineers, equipped to tackle the complex challenges of the future, has come under question. These challenges are wicked and unknown and will force engineers to use collaborate and use technical skills to solve social problems. With this in mind, the National Academies of Engineering launched the Engineer of 2020 project and charged its Committee on Engineering Education to develop a vision for engineering in 2020 and beyond. The Engineer of 2020 will be characterized by 10 attributes. The descriptions of these skills are vague; many institutions and organizations have characterized these attributes and created internal metrics by and through which they will develop these attributes in their students.

Yet, it is not the university's sole responsibility to develop engineering attributes in future engineers. Before beginning college, students have vast experiences both through formal and informal education, which may have already begun to foster these attributes. Additionally, there is a cultural transmission of knowledge and experiences which may inculcate students with interest towards interests in STEM fields. Thus, this literature review will discuss the engineer of 2020 attributes as discussed in historical and contemporary literature related to African Americans/Blacks, with a focus on males and precollege informal learning contexts. In this literature mapping review, the terms Blacks and African Americans will be used interchangeably. This work can impact the engineering education and diversity research by spurring increased conversation and research investigations of cultural practices and activities from informal settings which may contribute to engineering attribute development.

Tolbert, D., & Cardella, M. E. (2016, June), Engineer of 2020 Attributes and the Black Male Future Engineer: A Review of Literature Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26982

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