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Reflecting on 10 years of Centralized Engineering Student Diversity Initiatives (Experience)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 2

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Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Lisa Trahan University of California, San Diego

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Lisa Trahan joined UC San Diego's IDEA Engineering Student Center in 2018 as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assessment. Ms. Trahan leads planning and development of new student success initiatives and programs within the Center. She provides expertise to assess, improve, and evaluate the impact of the Center's programs on student retention and success. Previously, Ms. Trahan was a Research and Evaluation Associate at The Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley’s public science center, where she evaluated STEM education programs for all ages. Several studies focused on expanding diversity, access, and inclusion in pre-college engineering education, with attention to changes in participants’ skills, attitudes, and career interests. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Education from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Museum Studies: Specialization in Education and Interpretation from John F. Kennedy University. Her Master’s Project focused on culturally responsive evaluation practices.

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Gennie Miranda UC San Diego

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Gennie B. Miranda serves as the Director of Operations in the IDEA Engineering Student Center, Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, with overall responsibility for coordinating, developing and promoting initiatives to advance the diversity, enrichment, inclusion and retention of all engineering students. Gennie is a strong proponent of taking a holistic approach to supporting college students, utilizing current literature in developing effective programs and services that promote the academic, professional and personal success of students. During the past 8 years, Gennie has focused on promoting academic success, fostering community building, and cultivating a sense of belonging among engineering students at UC San Diego through her work at the IDEA Center. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and an M.A. in Education, Postsecondary Educational Leadership: Specialization in Student Affairs from San Diego State University.

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Olivia A. Graeve University of California, San Diego

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Prof. Graeve joined the University of California, San Diego, in 2012, and is currently Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Director of the CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials and Systems, and Faculty Director of the IDEA Engineering Student Center. Prof. Graeve holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Davis, and a Bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering from the University of California, San Diego. Her area of research focuses on the design and processing of new materials for extreme environments, including extremes of temperature, pressure, and radiation. Prof. Graeve has been involved in many activities related to the recruitment and retention of women and Hispanic students in science and engineering and has received several prestigious awards including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2020. She has been inducted into the Tijuana Walk of Fame (2014), the Mexican Academy of Engineering (2016), the Mexican Academy of Sciences (2019), and has been named Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (2017).

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The IDEA Engineering Student Center at the University of California San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering was established in 2010 to focus on engineering student diversity and inclusion initiatives following a series of racially charged incidents affecting our campus’ Black students. From its inception, the IDEA Center aimed to focus on 1) outreach, 2) recruitment and yield, 3) academic success and enrichment, and 4) retention and graduation for underrepresented minority (URM) students. Through the lens of nonprofit organizational lifecycles, the IDEA Center transitioned from Idea to Start-up to Growth during the past 10 years. The 2020-2021 academic year was pivotal for the Center for several reasons. First, it was the Center’s 10-year anniversary and the beginning of a strategic planning process. Moreover, the Black Lives Matter movement reinvigorated attention to how the Center can support the success of Black students and other underrepresented groups in the Jacobs School of Engineering. These have pushed the Center to review and renew our work to ensure continued relevance and impact. Mirroring our shift through the Idea-Startup-Growth stages, our assessment and evaluation needs have also shifted. Over the past 10 years, the IDEA Center established and grew several programs with a focus on establishing theory-based academic success and retention programs and conducting assessment to establish early evidence of program impact and ensure smooth implementation. Now as we build towards becoming a Mature organization over the next several years, we are looking to establish ongoing systems for data collection and reporting to tell a cohesive story of impact in alignment with school-wide goals. This paper will discuss reflections and lessons learned from the development and growth of the IDEA Center, with a focus on the development of specific programs and considerations that remain for us to address in the future. We hope that this paper and presentation can inform other universities that may be trying to initiate, grow, or centralize student diversity initiatives within engineering schools or divisions.

Trahan, L., & Miranda, G., & Graeve, O. A. (2021, July), Reflecting on 10 years of Centralized Engineering Student Diversity Initiatives (Experience) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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