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Initiatives for Creating a More Inclusive Engineering Environment with Limited Resources and Minimum Disruption

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Teaching Methods in Mechancial Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Rebecca L Norris University of Oklahoma

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Rebecca Norris is the Assistant to the Director of the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. She has earned B.A. degrees in German and International and Area Studies and a Master of Public Administration, all from the University of Oklahoma. She serves as a member of the School's TECAID (Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion and Diversity) team and is interested in higher education administration and STEM initiatives in inclusion and diversity.

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Zahed Siddique University of Oklahoma

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Zahed Siddique is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering of University of Oklahoma. His research interest include product family design, advanced material and engineering education. He is interested in motivation of engineering students, peer-to-peer learning, flat learning environments, technology assisted engineering education and experiential learning. He is the coordinator of the industry sponsored capstone from at his school and is the advisor of OU's FSAE team.

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M. Cengiz Altan University of Oklahoma

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Professor Altan is the B.H. Perkinson Chair and Director of the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma and has been the leader of the Composite Materials Research Group for more than two decades. Professor Altan’s primary research interests are in the mechanics, manufacturing, and characterization of advanced polymeric composite materials.

Professor Altan has published more than 150 articles in the leading journals and conference proceedings, and edited proceedings of several ASME symposia on advanced materials and composites. Professor Altan is an ASME Fellow and serving as the President-Elect of the Polymer Processing Society.

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J. D. Baldwin University of Oklahoma

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Wilson E Merchán-Merchán University of Oklahoma

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In recent years the need for and benefits of diverse and inclusive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines have been highlighted by educators, industry, and governmental agencies. It has been shown that a diverse workforce is critical to the generation of new ideas, creativity and innovation [1]. It is widely acknowledged that mechanical engineering departments at the undergraduate level, in most instances, do not have a diverse student body that is representative of the general population [2]. Therefore, the development and implementation of practices and initiatives for increasing diversity of the student and faculty in the mechanical engineering discipline must be a focus. Additionally, we believe that having a welcoming, inclusive environment is a precursor to improving diversity and thus should be an important consideration in mechanical engineering education. We propose that introducing a few carefully designed practices that require very few resources and cause minimum disruption could result in a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

Bringing about change for a more inclusive environment can be challenging, namely in that it can be disruptive and require resources, but careful planning and strategic use of resources can help alleviate these challenges. A more inclusive STEM environment could be created by trying to address numerous complex existing issues (such as the gender-gap or the lack of participation of underrepresented groups) individually, but multifaceted solutions are essential to address these issues as a whole. Our vision of a fully inclusive program includes students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds who are comfortable and fully engaged in the educational process and have equal opportunities to be successful. We are working to further improve recruitment and increase retention of the best and brightest minds, regardless of sex, ethnic background, or sexual orientation by strategically focusing on several initiatives in our school.

The University of Oklahoma is currently participating in a NSF funded program titled Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion and Diversity (TECAID). In this paper we present some of the initiatives that we are undertaking as a part of this program to achieve our vision for a more inclusive environment, while minimizing disruption and strategically utilizing the limited resources available. We believe that our strategies may provide other institutions with a starting point for creating a more inclusive mechanical engineering educational experience.

Norris, R. L., & Siddique, Z., & Altan, M. C., & Baldwin, J. D., & Merchán-Merchán, W. E. (2016, June), Initiatives for Creating a More Inclusive Engineering Environment with Limited Resources and Minimum Disruption Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25697

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