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“Man, I am a Black Engineer”: The Co-development of Transformational Resistance and Engineering Identity

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Centering Black Experiences in STEM: Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education Division Technical Session 4

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Paper Authors


Anne McAlister University of Virginia

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Anne is a doctoral student at University of Virginia, and will start as a postdoctoral fellow at University at Buffalo in the fall.

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Jessica McDermott University of Virginia

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Jessica McDermott is a PhD student studying higher education at the University of Virginia. She is also an experienced educator whose most recent full-time position was Director of First Year Programs at a STEM-focused university. Jessica is dedicated to supporting students from all backgrounds.

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Juan Carlos Garibay University of Virginia

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Lindsay Wheeler

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Many societal inequalities are inexorably linked to engineering and technology that are pervasive and transformational in our society. Engineering students from underrepresented backgrounds may care about addressing social inequalities but may have a challenging time identifying with the historically white, masculine culture of engineering that emphasizes technical aspects of engineering. We used the lenses of transformational resistance and engineering identity to explore ways that engineering identity, social identity, and identification with social justice may be co-developed in engineering students. We used a single case study methodology to examine the counternarrative of Andre, an Afro-Latino male undergraduate computer engineering student who took an engineering course that integrated issues of racial inequality. We found that Andre’s social identity was not only related to but was inseparable from his engineering identity in that he identified as a “Black engineer.” His experiences as a Black person caused him to have a personal connection to his critiques of social oppression, and he learned how he might have a role in working toward social justice through engineering. Thus, for Andre, identification with engineering, race, and social justice were all related. The findings of this study may have implications for how institutions leverage students’ social justice resources that they bring into engineering, integrate issues of social justice into engineering education, and broaden perspectives of engineering such that the field might appeal to a wider variety of students. Results highlight the value and utility of integrating issues of social inequality into engineering education for potentially increasing interest, persistence, and representation in the field of engineering.

McAlister, A., & McDermott, J., & Garibay, J. C., & Wheeler, L. (2022, August), “Man, I am a Black Engineer”: The Co-development of Transformational Resistance and Engineering Identity Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--40705

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