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Engineering Identity Development of Latina and Latino Members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

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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

Identity and Engineering: ERM Roundtable

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.629.1 - 26.629.13



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Paper Authors


Renata A Revelo University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Renata A. Revelo Alonso is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Engineering Identity Development of Latina and Latino Members of the Society of Hispanic Professional EngineersThis study is motivated by the issue of underrepresentation and success of Latina/o students inengineering. In this study, I address the following research question: In what ways and to whatextent does membership in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers influence theengineering identity development of Latina/o students? The goal of this study is to produce aculturally situated understanding of the ways these students develop their engineering identities,because current scholarly understandings of engineering identity development are not culturallysituated.Using Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth framework and intersectionality work, I designed aninterview protocol to have conversations with self-identified undergraduate Latina/o studentsmembers of SHPE about their experiences in engineering. I invited participants via an email sentto a national mailing list of undergraduate SHPE members. I interviewed all twenty respondentswho were current undergraduate engineering students, had been members of SHPE for at leastone academic year, and were 18 years or older. I conducted 45-60 minute interviews withparticipants via video Skype, Google Hangout, or telephone.I found six themes that address the research question. Through SHPE, students gainedprofessional and leadership skills that were key to their career development. Students engaged incommunity service mostly through outreach to kids. Students took on the responsibility to be aninfluence, role model, or mentor to younger engineering students or prospective engineeringstudents in high school. Students found engineering role models locally and nationally. Studentsfound a familia or a home away from home. These themes were analyzed using Yosso’sCommunity Cultural Wealth framework. These themes map to uses of aspirational, navigational,and familial capital as well as social capital. I conducted eleven follow up interviews to membercheck the themes. To triangulate the interview findings, I am conducting observations at keyevents held by a SHPE chapter. I will also conduct observations during the 2014 national SHPEconference.Community Cultural Wealth framework and intersectionality allow me to culturally situate thestudy of engineering identity development for Latina/o students. Participants employed theiraspirational, navigational, and familial capital through their involvement in SHPE. Theparticipants gained professional and leadership skills that allowed them to navigate college andenter the engineering profession. They connected with the community beyond their universitiesthrough outreach. Students developed as engineers who were professionals, leaders, and mostimportant, role models to other Latinas/os engineering students, and with a responsibility to thecommunity. Through their SHPE familia students employed their aspirational capital by beingand finding role models of engineers like them.Within SHPE students found a sense of belonging in engineering. This sense of belongingempowered students to not only succeed in engineering, but to help others succeed and grow asengineers. Further, participants described themselves as becoming professionals, leaders, part ofthe community, and role models – roles as engineers went beyond themselves as individuals.This idea of a culturally and socially responsible engineer challenges the idea of an individualistengineering identity and presents a collectivistic way of thinking about engineering identitydevelopment.

Revelo, R. A. (2015, June), Engineering Identity Development of Latina and Latino Members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23967

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