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International Scientific Research Experiences: Developing Global Citizens and Nurturing Engineers and Scientists of the Future

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Bettina Jeanine Casad University of Missouri, St. Louis Orcid 16x16

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I am a social psychologist with expertise and research interests in Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology. I work with scientists and engineers to develop and evaluate education and traning programs to recruit and retain diverse students and faculty in STEM.

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Monica Palomo P.E. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Associate Professor

B.S. Civil Engineering, University of Guanajuato, Gto, Mexico, December 1999, summa cum laude.

M.S. Civil Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, May 2003.

PhD. Civil Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS , May 2008.

Dr. Palomo is currently an Associate Professor of the Civil Engineering Department in the College of Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). In this position, Dr. Palomo is responsible for teaching courses such as Introduction to Civil Engineering; Hydraulics; Water and Wastewater Treatment; Groundwater Mechanics; Research Experience of Undergraduate Students; and Engineering Outreach Service Learning courses, among others. She is also a faculty advisor for the California Water Environment Association (CWEA), and Engineers Without Boarders (EWB) student chapters. Additionally, Dr. Palomo is the CE Water Analysis laboratory director and coordinates all teaching, research and safety training activities in the engineering laboratory. Dr. Palomo conducts research in surface water quality improvement via natural treatment systems, water and wastewater treatment processes, and water education. She is involved in outreach programs for K-12 students to increase the participation of Hispanic female students in STEM fields

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Natalie Mladenov San Diego State University

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Dr. Natalie Mladenov is an associate professor and William E. Leonhard Jr. Chair in Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at San Diego State University. She received her PhD and MS degrees from University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Mladenov is the Director of the Water Innovation and Reuse Lab at SDSU and leads projects on decentralized water reuse systems and water quality in pristine and polluted environments. She is also a founding member of the Area of Excellence, “Blue Gold: Mitigating the Effects of Water Scarcity,” an interdisciplinary and collaborative group conducting research and educational activities on topics relevant to water scarce regions of the world.

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Undergraduate research experiences are known to spike student interest in research, and inspire women and racial minority students to seek science, engineering and technology degrees, putting them on the path toward higher education. It has been suggested that engineering experiences or research projects in international locations, where students are exposed to environmental and sustainability issues connected to social welfare, may compel students to seek advanced higher education opportunities in their later professional paths. In this study, we evaluated the impact of linking authentic research experiences to community development and sanitation rights in an international location. It was hypothesized that the international context of the research experiences will provide students with a global perspective of water reuse challenges and promote increased interest in pursuing an advanced degree in engineering. Through the Sustainable Sanitation International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) Program, US students conducting research in Durban, South Africa in 2015-2017 were tasked with leading 6-8-week long research projects, in collaboration with partners at the University of KwaZulu Natal. Once in the US, students were given opportunities to prepare papers and presentations for regional and international scientific conferences, and to conduct K-12 outreach activities. All participants were from groups underrepresented in science and engineering. Data collection included pre- and post-program surveys and post experience interviews. Surveys evaluated research skills, research self-efficacy, and interest in pursuing an advanced degree in engineering (e.g., self-reported research confidence gained through the IRES program was observed to increase over time and was statistically different from the comparison group, p = 0.038). Our qualitative results indicate the awareness of culture, societal needs, and engineering challenges faced in Durban had a positive effect on students’ perceptions of how their professional work can have a global impact. The benefits gained from the international research experience have important implications for the environmental engineering education field. These experiences can introduce greater research self-efficacy, foster an interest in engineering field research, inspire students from underrepresented groups, and engage all participants in global issues and impacts.

Casad, B. J., & Palomo, M., & Mladenov, N. (2018, June), International Scientific Research Experiences: Developing Global Citizens and Nurturing Engineers and Scientists of the Future Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30707

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