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Experiences of Engineering Students Participating in an Abolitionist Labor Strike

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Social Justice: Pedagogy, Curricular Reform, and Activism

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

24

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37131

Download Count

17

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Paper Authors

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Joseph Valle University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

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Joseph 'Joey' Valle is a Ph.D candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. His thesis includes both technical and engineering education research components. His engineering education research focuses on understanding and seeking ways to undo oppression based harm in engineering. He holds a B.S.E in materials science and engineering from MIT and a M.S.E in materials science and engineering from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, with a focus on electrochemical energy storage systems.

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Israa Ali University of Michigan

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Israa Ali is a senior undergraduate studying Aerospace Engineering.

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Corin L Bowen California State University, Los Angeles Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0910-8902

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Corin (Corey) Bowen is a postdoctoral researcher in the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology at California State University - Los Angeles, where she is working on the NSF-funded Eco-STEM project. Her engineering education research focuses on structural oppression in engineering systems, organizing for equitable change, and developing an agenda of Engineering for the Common Good. She conferred her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in April 2021. Her doctoral research included both technical and educational research. She also holds an M.S.E. in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and a B.S.E. in civil engineering from Case Western Reserve University, both in the areas of structural engineering and solid mechanics.

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Donna M Riley Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

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Donna Riley is Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education and Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Abstract

Labor unions have historically played a central role in workers' struggles against injustice, enabling social mobility while creating infrastructure for realizing social change. Engineering graduate students are not frequently given opportunities to interact with labor unions in their fields of study, despite facing a number of issues that labor unions have played significant roles in addressing. These can include issues relating to race, gender, dis/ability, socioeconomic status, mental health, and other power dynamics within workplaces. At a large public university that is a predominantly white institution (PWI), engineering student workers recently participated in a graduate student worker labor strike. A central component of the strike demands were non-reformist reforms toward the reduction of police power. These demands centered policing and police violence as a health and safety issue on campus and in society as a whole.

The present work-in-progress study seeks to use critical and intersectional lenses in an effort to identify and understand engineering graduate student motivations for participation in the labor strike. Graduate engineering students who participated in the strike engaged in semi-structured interviews, using the labor strike as a focal point for conversation topics, including students’ experiences with participation, prior and current understandings of unions, and beliefs about relationships between unions and engineering. Common themes emerging from interviews provide insight into the relationships of participants to broader cultural ideologies within engineering and conflicts or tensions that can result from the interaction of social justice transformations with traditionally held beliefs underlying engineering ideologies. This paper explores the potential of labor activism as a site of further transdisciplinary learning and personal development.

Valle, J., & Ali, I., & Bowen, C. L., & Riley, D. M. (2021, July), Experiences of Engineering Students Participating in an Abolitionist Labor Strike Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37131

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