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Studying the Impact of Humanitarian Engineering Projects on Student Professional Formation and Views of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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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

For Students to Know and Grow

Tagged Divisions

Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education

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Paper Authors


Kirsten Heikkinen Dodson Lipscomb University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kirsten Heikkinen Dodson is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering at Lipscomb University. She graduated from Lipscomb University with her Bachelors degree before completing her Doctoral Degree at Vanderbilt. Upon completing her research at Vanderbilt, she joined the faculty at her alma mater where she has focused on thermal-fluids topics in teaching and humanitarian engineering topics in research. Currently, she is investigating the connections between humanitarian engineering projects, professional formation, and views of diversity and inclusion.

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Courtney Deckard Lipscomb University


Hannah Duke Lipscomb University

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Hannah Duke is an undergraduate student in the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering at Lipscomb University. Hannah is studying mechanical engineering and plans to continue on to graduate school, following the completion of her undergraduate degree, to get a master's degree in Architectural Design. She is currently researching the effects of humanitarian engineering projects on views of diversity and inclusion and professional development.

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Makenzie Cohn

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Natalie Shaffer Lipscomb University


Elizabeth Buchanan Marshfield Clinic Research Institute

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Elizabeth Buchanan PhD is Director of the Office of Research Support Services and Senior Research Scientist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. For over twenty years, Elizabeth’s scholarship has focused on research ethics, compliance and regulations, specifically around Internet, social media, and big data research. In these areas, she has written guidelines for IRBs/REBs, contributed to the Secretary’s Advisory Committee to the Office of Human Research Protections (SACHRP) in 2013, and was co-author to the 2012 Association of Internet Researchers Ethics Guidelines. Elizabeth serves as faculty at the Fordham University’s Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI), Associate Editor, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, Board Member for Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), and Board Member and Secretary, Open Door Free Clinic, a community resource Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Prior to joining Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, she was Endowed Chair in Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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Though strong efforts have been made to attract women and minorities to the engineering field, diversity still lags in most disciplines. A variety of organizations and governing bodies in engineering have made calls to change this, but progress is slow. Research has shown that women and underrepresented groups continue to face barriers and challenges in the engineering workplace. This project seeks to shift the focus from simply attracting underrepresented groups to the engineering field to instead finding ways to create a more inclusive workplace culture. As inclusiveness in the workplace improves, naturally, an increase in diversity should follow as well as less barriers for women and minorities in the field. More specifically, this project hypothesizes that involvement in humanitarian engineering projects (HEP) provides unique professional formation for students, specifically with respect to their views of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The research team will examine the immediate impact of involvement (and non-involvement) in HEP on students as well as the long-term impacts using alumni responses. Data from students and alumni will be collected from a predominantly undergraduate institution with a 15-year history of completing HEP. Through questionnaires and interviews with current students and alumni, the research will explore what impacts HEP have on student professional formation around their views of DEI as well as professional responsibility. Results from this study will inform engineering education practices to create more inclusive engineering professionals with the broader impact of increased diversity in the field. This Work-in-Progress paper will detail the background and current progress of a 2-year National Science Foundation Professional Formation of Engineers: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (NSF PFE:RIEF) project including the project framing, team formation, research training, and questionnaire development.

Dodson, K. H., & Deckard, C., & Duke, H., & Cohn, M., & Shaffer, N., & Buchanan, E. (2021, July), Studying the Impact of Humanitarian Engineering Projects on Student Professional Formation and Views of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37781

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