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Exploring Engineering Faculty Views on their Role in Broadening Participation in Engineering

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2024 Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity (CoNECD)


Arlington, Virginia

Publication Date

February 25, 2024

Start Date

February 25, 2024

End Date

February 27, 2024

Conference Session

Track 8: Technical Session 3: Exploring Engineering Faculty Views on their Role in Broadening Participation in Engineering

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions

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Paper Authors


Gerica Brown University of Dayton

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Dr. Gerica Brown serves as the inaugural Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence Strategic Initiatives in the School of Engineering at the University of Dayton. Previously, she led the Multi-Ethnic Engineers Program at UD since June of 2016. Prior to her time working in higher ed, Gerica had accumulated 9 years of service working in various Engineering and Supply Chain roles with GE Aviation, including working as a Process Engineer and Operations Manager at engine assembly and repair facilities, and as a Six Sigma Black Belt for Global Engine Overhaul Operations. Gerica is a 2008 graduate of UD’s Mechanical Engineering program, received her Master’s in Supply Chain Management from Penn State in 2014, and just recently earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Dayton in December 2021. During her time with GE Aviation, Gerica also served as a University Relations lead-recruiter, and led a number of community engagement efforts with the GE Women’s Network and African American Forum.

Gerica is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM as a means to broadening the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM education and careers. Her experiences as the MEP Director have focused on developing and implementing high impact practices known to promote student success and persistence. In addition to her work as a practitioner in supply chain and engineering student success, Gerica is a qualitative researcher who centers the lived experiences of various engineering education stakeholders; including faculty, staff, students, and employers; in order to gain greater clarity on the current status of the engineering educational landscape. Gerica believes that each person’s experiences and perspectives are important to understanding the current state of engineering education and thus critical for developing strategies toward a path forward.

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Broadening participation in STEM is an initiative of critical importance within the United States. In order to maintain its global prominence in STEM fields, as well as maintain national security and other technological advances, the US must produce over one million more STEM professionals than what is currently projected. Broadening participation is a term used to describe increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. This includes providing STEM exposure, access, and opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups. According to the National Science Foundation, those considered underrepresented in STEM include Alaskan Natives, Native Americans, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Persons with Disabilities, and Women. The NSF considers broadening participation in STEM as a way to “contribute to the production of a diverse and well-qualified STEM field”. Furthermore, processes and procedures have been developed to provide financial support to individuals, institutions, and organizations who develop means to expand the population of STEM students and professionals. While some engineering education professionals, staff, and administrators may be aware of, and contribute to addressing, representation and retention challenges in engineering, little is known of engineering faculty members’ experiences, awareness, and perceptions of this landscape. Likewise, under-researched is the question of whether and how engineering faculty consider their roles in national broadening participation initiatives. This study explored, at a fundamental level, engineering faculty awareness of the engineering landscape, as well as how engineering faculty considered their roles broadening participation in engineering. Faculty participants in this interpretive phenomenological analysis research study demonstrated an awareness of the increasing demand for engineering talent in the US. Additionally, this study found that instead of discussing their role in k-12 outreach, most faculty focused on their interactions with current students as essential to broadening participation. Faculty identified; making meaningful connections with students, supporting and encouraging students, as well as helping students develop a connection to engineering, which supports their internal motivation to persist, as practices which they could implement to promote greater student persistence, thus broaden underrepresented student participation in engineering. While many faculty discussed the importance of engagement in outreach, creating inclusive classroom environments, and even exhibited a mindset which aligns with inclusive pedagogies, many expressed time constraints and varying priorities as being a barrier to this engagement and few expressed a high level of self-efficacy in achieving these goals even if time permitted.

Brown, G. (2024, February), Exploring Engineering Faculty Views on their Role in Broadening Participation in Engineering Paper presented at 2024 Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity (CoNECD), Arlington, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--45450

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