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Tensions in Applying a Design-Thinking Approach to Address Barriers to Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in a Large, Legacy Engineering Program

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33362

Download Count

5

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Paper Authors

biography

Sean Eddington Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Sean Eddington (Ph.D., Purdue University) will be an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Kansas State University beginning Fall 2019. Sean’s primary research interests exist at the intersections of organizational communication, new media, gender, and organizing. Within engineering contexts, Sean has examined career issues within the engineering discipline regarding (1) new faculty experiences throughout their on-boarding and (2) educational cultures that impact the professional formation of engineers, which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Both projects have been published in the Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education. He has also served as a series editor, contributed to trade publications, and facilitated workshops related to higher education administrators’ work experiences. Sean is also actively engaged within mentoring activities, and has served as an advisor to multiple student leadership organizations including Beta Theta Pi, which he has received both campus and international awards for his service and mentoring to the Purdue chapter.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education and Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program at Purdue University. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Prior to this she was Co-Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue where she was responsible for developing curriculum and assessment tools and overseeing the research efforts within EPICS. Her research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity, inclusion, and equity in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, and leadership.

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Andrew O. Brightman Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Andrew O. Brightman serves as Assistant Head for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. His research background is in cellular biochemistry, tissue engineering, and engineering ethics. He is committed to developing effective pedagogies for ethical reasoning and engineering design and for increasing the diversity and inclusion of engineering education.

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Danielle Corple Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Danielle Corple is a Ph.D. student in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. She studies organizational communication and qualitative and computational research methods. Her specific research interests are gender, organizing, and ethics in online and offline contexts.

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Patrice Marie Buzzanell Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0058-7676

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Patrice M. Buzzanell is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida and Endowed Visiting Professor for the School of Media and Design at Shanghai Jiaotong University. Fellow and Past President of the International Communication Association (ICA), she served as President of the Council of Communication Associations and the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender. She is a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association. Her research focuses on career, work-life policy, resilience, gender, and engineering design. She received ICA’s Mentorship Award and the Provost Outstanding Mentor Award at Purdue, where she was University Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair and Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence. She has worked with Purdue-ADVANCE initiatives for institutional change, four EPICS teams including Transforming Lives Building Global Communities (TLBGC) in Ghana, and individual engineering ethical development and team ethical climate scales as well as everyday negotiations of ethics in design and professional formation of engineers through NSF funding. [Email: pmbuzzanell@usf.edu; buzzanel@purdue.edu]

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Abstract

Elsbach and Stigliani (2018) contend, “the effective use of design thinking tools in organizations had a profound effect on organizational culture—where we define organizational culture as comprising the underlying norms, values, and assumptions that define the “right way” to behave in an organization” [1, p. 2279]. Design thinking (DT) and its tools (e.g., customer journey maps, empathy maps, brainstorming, etc.) are more useful in some organizational cultures over others. In organizational and disciplinary cultures that value experimentation or collaboration (i.e., engineering), DT has been shown to have a positive impact. Citing the presence of design courses, product design skills, and the use of design processes that are central to engineering disciplinary cultures and professional practice, Lammi (2011) and others have argued, “the essence of engineering is design” [2, p. 1]. More importantly, design is not just what engineers do or learn throughout their undergraduate and graduate careers, but a central part of engineering cultures. If that is true, then engineering disciplinary cultures are ripe for use of DT in addressing problems as design challenges.

In this paper, we argue that three interconnected issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion, professional formation, and exclusionary engineering disciplinary cultures are wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, interrelated and require multifaceted solutions. Thus, the three issues are wicked problems that might be best resolved through DT for (at least) three reasons. First, they are being implemented in a supportive disciplinary culture—a College of Engineering. Second, the process of design thinking involves partnering with stakeholders rather than designing solutions for them. Third, the design process is iterative, and involves multiple design cycles to prototype potential solutions that address diversity and inclusion, professional formation, and exclusionary engineering cultures.

The research reported in this paper is part of a larger, three-year, National Science Foundation funded project that uses the three phases of design (Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation) to attempt to transform organizational cultures of engineering [3]. The comparative research project is focused on two engineering schools: the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the School of Biomedical Engineering at a large, Midwestern university. The larger study is guided by three connected design questions: RQ1: How might we make engineering programs more diverse and inclusive? RQ2: How might we better prepare engineering graduates for practice? RQ3: How effective is the design thinking approach for addressing these complex and inter-related issues? In this paper, we examine and evaluate the role of DT in organizational transformation in engineering (RQ3) by analyzing interviews of nine members of the School of ECE after they participated in six design sessions. Whereas previous research on DT has suggested that the approach had an impact on participants’ understanding of diversity and inclusion [4], this paper continues to build upon existing research examining the effectiveness of DT in ECE contexts. Additionally, this paper evaluates the participants’ experiences and understandings of the role and impact of DT in generating potential solutions within the School of ECE toward a more inclusive and holistic learning environment.

[1] K. D. Elsbach and I. Stigliani, “Design Thinking and Organizational Culture: A Review and Framework for Future Research,” J. Manage., vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 2274–2306, 2018. [2] M. D. Lammi, “Thinking in terms of systems through engineering design,” in Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, 2011. [3] Authors, 2017. [4] Authors, 2018.

Eddington, S., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Brightman, A. O., & Corple, D., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2019, June), Tensions in Applying a Design-Thinking Approach to Address Barriers to Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in a Large, Legacy Engineering Program Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33362

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