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Lessons Learned from Successful Black Male “Buoyant Believers” in Engineering and Engineering-Related Fields

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Leroy L. Long III Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Dr. Leroy L. Long III is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Fundamentals at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. He earned his PhD in STEM Education with a focus on Engineering Education within the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University (OSU). He earned his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at OSU and his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at Wright State University. He is a native of Dayton, OH and a graduate of Dayton Public Schools.

Dr. Long’s research interests include: (a) technology use, (b) diversity and inclusion, and (c) retention and success, with a particular focus on students in STEM fields. He has conducted and published research with the Movement Lab and Center for Higher Education Enterprise at OSU.

Dr. Long has taught undergraduates in the First-Year Engineering Program and Department of Mechanical Engineering at OSU and served as a facilitator for both the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Young Scholars Program at OSU. Furthermore, he has worked in industry at Toyota and has a high record of service with organizations such as the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). To contact Dr. Long, email:

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Trevion S. Henderson University of Michigan

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Trevion Henderson is a doctoral student in the Center for Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) at the University of Michigan. He recently earned his master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at The Ohio State University while serving as a graduate research associate with the Center for Higher Education Enterprise. Trevion also hold's a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from The Ohio State University, where he served as a research assistant in the College of Education and Human Ecology Center for Inclusion, Diversity, and Academic Success.

Trevion's research interests center on three foci in Engineering Education: pedagogical strategies, practices and policies that broaden minority participation, and curricular design for meeting workforce and industry needs.

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In high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), more success strategies are needed to effectively recruit and retain college students. One-size fits-all approaches (i.e., those that are supposed to work for all students) often neglect the unique needs of underrepresented populations. Although some strategies exist for helping minority students succeed in STEM, the present investigation uncovered detailed information about how Black male students in engineering and engineering-related fields develop important academic traits such as confidence and resilience. To add to the limited body of literature on Black males in STEM, interview data from 27 Black male students majoring in engineering or engineering-related fields were analyzed through the lens of Strayhorn’s ‘buoyant believers’ framework. The framework offers practitioners, faculty, and staff – who work with minority engineering students – guidance for addressing challenges students face and creating pathways for their success. Based on the model, individuals can be described across four typologies as: (a) students who are confident and resilient, (b) students who are confident but lack resilience, (c) students who lack confidence but exhibit resilience, and (d) students who are neither resilient nor confident. The present study focuses solely on the narratives of students who are “buoyant believers.” Specific attention was given to the pre-college and in-college experiences of Black males in engineering and engineering-related fields in order to better identify potential sources of their current confidence and resilience. Findings revealed that research participants’ current confidence and resilience seem to be connected to attributes such as a) childhood adversity, b) a refusal to quit, and c) prior academic success, which ultimately led to their collegiate achievements.

Long, L. L., & Henderson, T. S. (2017, June), Lessons Learned from Successful Black Male “Buoyant Believers” in Engineering and Engineering-Related Fields Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28620

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