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"Ingeniero como vos": An analysis of the Mbyá-Guaraní Practices Associated with Engineering Design

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineers and Communities: Critical Reflections of Challenges, Opportunities, and Practices of Engaging Each Other

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Joel Alejandro Mejia University of San Diego Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Joel Alejandro (Alex) Mejia is an assistant professor of Integrated Engineering at the University of San Diego. His current research investigates how the integration of the historically and culturally accumulated wealth of knowledge, skills, and practices - also known as funds of knowledge - and engineering design can serve as a pathway to and through engineering. Dr. Mejia is particularly interested in how Latinx adolescents bring forth unique ways of knowing, doing, and being that provide them with particular ways of framing, approaching, and solving engineering problems. Dr. Mejia’s primary research interests lie at the intersection of engineering education and social justice. He is particularly interested in the integration of Chicanx Cultural Studies frameworks and pedagogies in engineering education, and critical consciousness in engineering through social justice.

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Matias N. de Paula University of San Diego

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de Paula is an adjunct instructor of Spanish at University of San Diego. As part of his MA in linguistics, he conducted research on Mbyá Guaraní phonology (2016) and collaborated in the production of the first Mbyá Guaraní dictionary (2017-2018).
Some of de Paula’s academic and professional accomplishments include being the recipient of a Fulbright FLTA scholarship (2008-2009) and a Cambridge University Best Practice in State Education Scholarship (2011). In addition, he has attended and presented in conferences and teacher training seminars in Argentina, England and the USA

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The Mbyá Guaraní is an indigenous community in South America primarily located in the Province of Misiones in Argentina. The Mbyá Guaraní communities are known for its subsistence practices since the times of the Jesuit missions in South America. Some of these practices include the cultivation of corn, manioc, peanut, squash, watermelon, and beans among others. The communities have also thrived in this area due to their hunting, fishing, gathering, and handcrafting practices. Moreover, these communities have accumulated and culturally developed bodies of cultural, social, historical, and cognitive knowledge and skills that are essential for their household and individual functioning and well-being.

Following my line of research on funds of knowledge and literacy practices in engineering, this study focuses on the cultural and social practices of the Misiones Mbyá Guaraní people and how these relate to engineering. To date, there has been little discussion on how indigenous knowledge can be the basis of engineering practices that are not traditionally recognized in the engineering curriculum. The purpose of this study is to generate knowledge on how native engineering practices (indigenous engineering) are enacted, and use this body of knowledge to describe how non-Western ways of knowing, doing, and being also have a place in engineering discourse. This study seeks to bring together, honor, and incorporate the voices, histories, practices, and emic perspectives of indigenous communities to the engineering classroom, and to evaluate the knowledge/power nexus when engaging in community engagement projects with indigenous communities.

This paper is part of the session titled "Engineers and Communities: Critical reflections of challenges, opportunities and practices of engaging each other" planned for this division.

Mejia, J. A., & de Paula, M. N. (2019, June), "Ingeniero como vos": An analysis of the Mbyá-Guaraní Practices Associated with Engineering Design Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31921

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