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Harnessing Student Leadership to Drive an Inclusive Environment in an Undergraduate Engineering Program

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Undergraduate Track - Technical Session III

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Undergraduate Education

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Paper Authors


Corinna Marie Fleischmann P.E. U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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CDR Fleischmann graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in May, 1998 and was assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Elm where she served two tours: as a Deck Watch Officer and Assistant Navigator from May 1998 to March 2000 and as the Operations Officer from March 2000 to June 2001. From 2001 to 2003, she was a member of the Facilities Engineering Branch at the USCGA. During this tour, she served as both the Safety Officer and the Construction Officer. In this latter capacity, she was the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) as well as Civil Engineering Project Manager for the Academy’s $5.2 million dollar construction program. In 2003, she was selected for graduate school and attended the University of Texas, Austin where she earned a M.S.C.E with an emphasis on Construction Engineering and Project Management. In December 2004, she joined the USCGA faculty as an Instructor. During her time at the Academy, she has been the advisor for both the American Society of Civil Engineering and Society of American Military Engineers student chapters, a member of the SUPT Gender Policy Group, and worked with CGA Admissions in several diversity outreach programs. In August 2009, CDR Fleischmann became a member of the Permanent Commission Teaching Staff and in 2014, completed her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the University of Connecticut. She holds a professional engineering license in the state of Florida and a certification as a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor through the National Sustainable Building Advisors Program.

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Richelle Leone Johnson

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Promoting student centered success strategies is a primary goal at the United States Coast Guard Academy (CGA). CGA, the smallest of the five federal service academies, is an undergraduate institution of approximately 1000 cadets (students) with four engineering majors; approximately 40% of the Cadet Corps (student body) graduates with an engineering degree. The CGA educational experience emphasizes leadership, physical fitness and professional development. Our cadets go directly into positions of leadership in service of others in the Coast Guard. For this reason, leadership is a focal point in cadet development. The CGA works to ensure our leaders are developed in an inclusive and supportive environment. This environment is cultivated through seven diversity councils made up of members of the Cadet Corps. These councils (1) promote a culture of respect that values a broad spectrum of skills and perspectives while ensuring supportive and rewarding learning environments for all; (2) provide experiential opportunities for cadets to engage in leadership practices and (3) serve as conduits by which underrepresented cadets can interact with cadets who embrace the philosophical, intellectual, and operational value of diversity as a means to living the mission of "developing culturally competent leaders of character”. Ensuring CGA cadets understand the importance of inclusion, equity and diversity in leadership is essential for all graduates. Our engineering graduates benefit from what is being done Corps wide and these Corps wide activities open doorways for discussions in engineering classrooms that may not normally be opened in an engineering setting, specifically, gender discussions surrounding the “confidence gap” and the “imposter syndrome”. Success discovered in some of these unscripted conversations is being explored in the hopes of fostering more intentional discussions on this topic and others related to the inclusion of all underrepresented groups specifically in engineering.

Fleischmann, C. M., & Johnson, R. L. (2018, April), Harnessing Student Leadership to Drive an Inclusive Environment in an Undergraduate Engineering Program Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--29542

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