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Featuring Silenced Perspectives in STEM: Supporting Multicultural and Diversity Leadership Through the STEM Foundry Heritage Fellows Program

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Special Topics: Conscious Considerations

Tagged Divisions

Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education

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Paper Authors


Andrea Arce-Trigatti Tennessee Technological University

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Andrea Arce-Trigatti holds a Ph.D. in Education with a Learning Environments and Educational Studies concentration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is currently on the Faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee Technological University. Her research centers on cultural studies in education, issues in multicultural education, and collaborative learning strategies. As a founding member of the Renaissance Foundry Research Group, she has helped to develop and investigate the pedagogical techniques utilized to enhance critical and creative thinking at interdisciplinary interfaces.

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Stephanie Jorgensen Tennessee Technological University

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Dr. Stephanie N. Jorgensen holds a PhD in Engineering with a Chemical Engineering concentration from Tennessee Technological University (TTU). She is currently on the Faculty in the TTU Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research interests focus on engineering education as well as the development and validation of mathematical and physical models for better understanding of species transport through healing wounds and predicting the effects of facilitated wound closure techniques (e.g., suturing, etc.) on resultant scarring. She is currently a contributing research member of the Renaissance Foundry Research Group.

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Robby Sanders Tennessee Technological University

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Dr. Robby Sanders is an Associate Professor at Tennessee Technological University (TTU) in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He obtained his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from TTU in 1995, and he obtained his Master’s degree and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1998 and 2001, respectively. His research efforts address 1) innovation-driven learning with a focus on student learning at disciplinary interfaces, 2) clinical diagnostics and therapeutics for diseases of the lungs, 3) wound healing, and 4) performance of soft gel materials. Recent courses taught by Dr. Sanders include Clinical Immersion at Disciplinary Interfaces, Transport in Biochemical and Biological Processes, Hemodynamics and Microrheology of Blood Suspensions and Other Biofluids, Transfer Science I: Heat Transfer, and Transfer Science III: Diffusion and Diffusive-Convective Mass Transfer.

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Pedro E. Arce Tennessee Technological University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. P. E. Arce is University Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Professor of Chemical Engineering at TTU, Cookeville, TN

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Anti-deficit teaching practices center on the effective use of transformative educational pedagogies that aim to create equitable learner spaces that integrate the voices of those traditionally marginalized (Perez et al., 2017). These intentional pedagogical strategies hold an important role in developing and increasing underrepresented students’ sense of belonging on campus – an aspect of the postsecondary experience that has a multitude of implications on engagement, retention, and success (O’Keefe, 2013; Pope, 2002). According to several studies, students’ sense of belonging indicates their own internalization of identity structures that either align or do not align with the current postsecondary culture, climate, or environment within which they are trying to obtain their education (Kuh, 2005; O’Keefe, 2013; Roberts, 2007; Wolf-Wendel, Ward, & Kinzie, 2009). By positively impacting students’ sense of belonging on campus, and specifically in engineering, through multicultural-specific leadership and community training, this type of curricula can transform students’ experiences in terms of cultural competency and engagement in social justice topics. Part of this process is utilizing transformative leadership pedagogy to elevate, recognize and integrate the voices as well as views of students who have been traditionally silenced. Their inclusion in the narrative of STEM contributions and the highlighting of their importance in the success of the higher learning institutions will assist in transforming the current non-inclusive perception.

The purpose of this contribution is to provide preliminary findings from the Science Technology Engineering and Math Foundry Heritage Fellows (STEM FHF) program, a student engagement and retention initiative at Tennessee Technological University (Tennessee Tech), funded by a Tennessee Board of Regents Student Engagement, Retention, and Success grant. Two of the major objectives of the STEM FHF program were to provide underrepresented students with a diverse array of opportunities to engage in community outreach and service as well as extensive leadership training that leveraged the Renaissance Foundry Model (herein the Foundry) to help develop two community outreach projects featuring diversity in STEM. The Foundry provides an iterative framework through which student teams identify a student learning challenge and progress through the two paradigms of the Foundry—knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer—to develop a prototype of innovative technology that addresses the identified challenge (Arce et al., 2015). This program was anchored in a sustainable model via which the first cohort was trained through mentorship and professional development to create such campus events, specifically those promoting understanding of diversity and multicultural awareness within STEM. From these trainings and connections, students were able to engage in various STEM outreach activities, including STEM4ALL, departmental student activities, events from the Multicultural Center on campus, Race and Diversity lecture series, and other opportunities that might not have otherwise been initially in their purview. We will review details related to the program strategy and implementation as well as offer observations of numerous aspects that helped students to achieve their goals. Opportunity for future efforts will also be outlined.

Arce-Trigatti, A., & Jorgensen, S., & Sanders, R., & Arce, P. E. (2021, July), Featuring Silenced Perspectives in STEM: Supporting Multicultural and Diversity Leadership Through the STEM Foundry Heritage Fellows Program Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37189

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