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Engineering Connections in a Native American Community and Culture

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Ieshya Anderson Arizona State University

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Ieshya Anderson is Naakétł’áhí (Tohono O’odham), born for Tł’ááshchí’í. Her cheii is Naakétł’áhí and her nálí is Tódích’íi’nii. Ieshya graduated from Arizona State University, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, emphasis in electrical systems. She is pursuing her PhD in Engineering Education Systems and Design at Arizona State University. Ieshya also continues to work with Dr. Shawn Jordan to develop engineering design curricula for middle school students on the Navajo reservation and facilitates Dr. Jordan's STEAM Machines™ outreach camps across the Navajo Nation with the ambition to expand to Tohono O'odham Nation.

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Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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SHAWN JORDAN, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches context-centered electrical engineering and embedded systems design courses, and studies the use of context in both K-12 and undergraduate engineering design education. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2010) and M.S./B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University. Dr. Jordan is PI on several NSF-funded projects related to design, including an NSF Early CAREER Award entitled “CAREER: Engineering Design Across Navajo Culture, Community, and Society” and “Might Young Makers be the Engineers of the Future?,” and is a Co-PI on the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments grant “Additive Innovation: An Educational Ecosystem of Making and Risk Taking.” He was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014, and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama in 2017.

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This Research Work in Progress investigates Native American perspectives regarding community and cultural connections to engineering.

Effective problem-solving for issues the world is facing involves generating diverse solutions. These diverse solutions need to include Native American perspectives. Native Americans are among the most underrepresented minority (URM) population in STEM fields in the United States, and yet little is known about why so few Native Americans choose to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. Recognizing that community and culture help shape students’ academic and personal development, it is important to consider how community and culture regard and experience the field of engineering and the role(s) that engineering could play within the community.

This study is a work in progress which will seek to answer the research question, how do Tohono O’odham community members perceive engineering in the context of their culture and community? In this article, I will present the framework, methods, procedures, data collection, and preliminary findings.

Through the lens of social constructivism, this qualitative study will explore how Tohono O’odham community members experience the intersection of engineering and Tohono O’odham culture and community. Data for this research study will be based on the perspectives provided by three Tohono O’odham adults using semi-structured interviews. An iterative process of peer reviews, memoing, and coding will be used for interview transcript analysis. Utilizing In Vivo and Concept mixed methods coding, the data will be analyzed for any emergent themes and/or categories. Results from this research study could be used to inform culturally-relevant engineering lessons for schools that serve Tohono O’odham students and point to directions for further research.

Anderson, I., & Jordan, S. S. (2018, June), Engineering Connections in a Native American Community and Culture Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30405

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