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Learning from Pell-Eligible Engineering Students’ Class Standpoint

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Broadening Participation in Engineering

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1067.1 - 26.1067.10



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Paper Authors


Coleen Carrigan Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

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Professor Coleen Carrigan is a feminist anthropologist and an Assistant Professor of Gender, Race, Culture, Science and Technology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She investigates the historical and cultural dimensions of underrepresented groups' participation in science, technology and engineering and the reasons why white males still dominate these fields.

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Eve A. Riskin University of Washington

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Eve Riskin received her BS degree in Electrical Engineering from
M.I.T. and her graduate degrees in EE from Stanford. Since 1990, she
has been in the EE Department at the University of Washington where
she is now Associate Dean of Diversity and Access in the College of
Engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of the
ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change. With ADVANCE, she works on
mentoring and leadership development programs for women faculty in
SEM. Her research interests include image compression and image
processing, with a focus on developing video compression algorithms to
allow for cell-phone transmission of American Sign Language. She was
awarded a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a
Sloan Research Fellowship, the 2006 WEPAN University Change Agent
award, the 2006 Hewlett-Packard Harriett B. Rigas Award, and the 2007
University of Washington David B. Thorud Leadership Award.
She is a Fellow of the IEEE.

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Jim L Borgford-Parnell University of Washington Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jim Borgford-Parnell is Associate Director and Instructional Consultant at the Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching at the University of Washington. He taught design, education-research methods, and adult and higher education theory and pedagogy courses for over 30 years. He has been involved in instructional development for 18 years, and currently does both research and instructional development in engineering education. Jim has taught courses on the development of reflective teaching practices, and has presented workshops on learning how to learn and developing metacognitive awareness. He has published and presented on engineering design, engineering pedagogies, and instructional development topics.

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Priti N Mody-Pan University of Washington

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Priti N. Mody-Pan is the Deputy Director and Director of Evaluation at the Center for Workforce Development. She leads program evaluations, develops proposals and new contracts, and conducts research on diversity in science and engineering. Ms. Mody-Pan received her Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) degrees from the University of Washington and her BA in Political Science and East Asian Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Dawn Wiggin University of Washington

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Dawn Wiggin is the Associate Director of Diversity & Access for Student Academic Services (SAS) at the University of Washington, College of Engineering. Dawn is responsible for overseeing the College’s recruitment, outreach, and diversity initiatives including the recruitment and inclusion of educationally and economically disadvantaged students in order to increase the percentage of underrepresented minorities and women considering higher education in engineering.

Professional Preparation

University of Washington 2011 MPA Public Administration
University of Washington 2001 BA Psychology
Costa Rica Language Institute 2002 Spanish

Associate Director of Diversity & Access, Student Academic Services, University of Washington College of Engineering, Box 352180 Seattle, WA 98195-2180 (2014-Present)

Associate Director of Recruitment & Outreach, Student Academic Services, University of Washington College of Engineering, Box 352180 Seattle, WA 98195-2180 (2011-2014)

Associate Director of Experiential Learning, Student Academic Services, University of Washington College of Engineering, Box 352180 Seattle, WA 98195-2180 (2009-2010)

Program Manager, Engineering Co-op & Internship Program, Engineering Advising & Diversity Center, University of Washington College of Engineering, Box 352180 Seattle, WA 98195-2180 (2005-2009)

Program Coordinator, Engineering Co-op & Internship Program, Diversity & Student Services, University of Washington College of Engineering, Box 352180 Seattle, WA 98195-2180 (2003-2005)


Jeremy Kingma, Eve Riskin, John Schneider, Robert Olsen, Sonya Cunningham, Dawn Wiggin, Kirk Reinkens, and Scott Winter, “The Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) in Engineering Program,” Proceedings of the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, June 2014.

Synergistic Activities & Projects in Education

Co-Principal Investigator, Washington STate Academic RedShirt Program (STARS). Grant increases the retention rate of economically and educationally disadvantaged students in Engineering, (2013-present).

Principal Investigator, Early Engineering Institute. Grant increases the math aptitude and interest in engineering for 144 middle and high school students from rural Washington communities, (Summers 2012-present).

Affiliate Associate Director, NSF Research Experience & Mentoring. Grant provides funding for six incoming UW freshmen to conduct research on the “Towards zero-energy buildings based on energy-harvesting electrochromic window (EH-ECW) and thermoelectrics (TE) systems” project, (2012-present).

Associate Director, Mathematics Academy. Program creates access to engineering for educationally and economically disadvantaged students, (2011-2014).

Associate Director, Engineering Discovery Days. The largest UW College of Engineering annual event brings over 8,000 students and families to campus to explore engineering through interactive activities, (2012-2014).

Board President, NW Career Educators and Employers Association. Organization brings together career educators and employers to improve the economic vitality of the Pacific Northwest, (2008).


Dr. Robert G. Olsen, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Washington State University
Dr. John Schneider, Associate Dean of Engineering and Architecture and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Washington State University
Kirk Reinkens, Instructor, Recruitment & Retention Coordinator, Washington State University

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Sonya Cunningham University of Washington

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Learning from Pell Grant-­‐Eligible Engineering Students’ Class Standpoint Engineering needs diversity to generate visionary solutions for our complex world. Our ethnographic study of Pell-Grant eligible students identifies challenges to their success and unique sources of inspiration and support. In our action-oriented study, we found that Pell-Grant eligible students are cognizant of their class standpoint and employ navigational capital (Yosso 2005), knowledge that enables marginalized students to navigate institutions created with dominant groups in mind, to persist in their engineering majors. Our research participants are active agents who are motivated by both personal and professional aspirations to succeed in engineering despite their lack of privilege. Semi-structured interviews illuminated that participants approach their education from both independent and interdependent perspectives and often rely on non-traditional sources of support. Based on our findings, we recommend engineering educators recognize Pell-Grant eligible students’ unique skills, motivations and knowledge and implement institutional changes to allow students from all class standpoints to contribute to the engineering profession.  

Carrigan, C., & Riskin, E. A., & Borgford-Parnell, J. L., & Mody-Pan, P. N., & Wiggin, D., & Cunningham, S. (2015, June), Learning from Pell-Eligible Engineering Students’ Class Standpoint Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24404

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015