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The Effects of Infusing Diversity and Inclusion into a Design Problem in Engineering Mechanics: Statics

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Mechanics Division Technical Session 3

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Paper Authors


Amir Hedayati Mehdiabadi University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Amir Hedayati is an Assistant Professor at Organization, Information & Learning Sciences department at College of University Libraries & Learning Sciences at University of New Mexico. He received a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from University of Illinois in 2018. He has a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from Sharif University of Technology and an M.B.A. degree from University of Tehran. He has presented his research in past years at multiple conferences including American Society for Engineering Education, American Evaluation Association, International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and Academy of Human Resource Development.

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Rebecca A. Atadero Colorado State University

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Rebecca Atadero is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University, specializing in structural engineering. She conducts research on the inspection, management and renewal of existing structures, and on diversity, equity and inclusion in engineering education.

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Daniel W. Baker Ph.D., P.E. Colorado State University

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Daniel Baker, PhD PE is a full-time faculty instructor and is the primary instructor for both the on-campus and online sections of CIVE 260 Statics and CIVE 261 Dynamics. He has a keen interest in active learning and has a particular interest in both physical and virtual interactive learning tools. Daniel has a PhD from Colorado State University and is a registered Professional Engineer in Colorado.

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Anne Marie Aramati Casper Colorado State University

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Dr. Aramati Casper is an education researcher and ecologist. She is currently a research associate at Colorado State University doing research on diversity, inclusion, and social justice in undergraduate engineering classrooms.

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Engineering educators strive to prepare their students for success in the engineering workforce. Increasingly, many career paths will require engineering graduates to work in multi-disciplinary teams with individuals possessing a diversity of skill sets, backgrounds and identities. Working effectively with diversity and implementing inclusive practices relies on attitudes and skills that can be learned and developed by undergraduate students. These skills can be integrated into team-based assignments, provided the assignments are designed to teach students teamwork skills which include valuing diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, it is important that this instruction occurs longitudinally throughout the engineering curriculum, giving students an opportunity to grow their skills over time. While engineering mechanics courses are not always associated with student team projects, these courses provide the opportunity to show students how teamwork and diversity are relevant to problem solving. And, as mechanics oriented courses often dominate the sophomore and junior level of many programs, they are potentially an important venue for teaching students about working with others and in teams.

This paper introduces and examines the effects of a teamwork intervention in Statics aimed at teaching students about the importance of diversity and inclusion in engineering with specific attention to diverse teams. Students were required to complete a series of tasks before, during, and after a class session focused on the design of a crane system. Before class students watched and reflected on a video about the impact of diversity on team problem solving. The in-class design problem was intentionally “stretched” beyond the Statics curriculum, requiring that students implement knowledge distributed to different individuals in the group via a series of unique hints (representing a diversity of knowledge among group members). After completing the assignment outside of class, students were asked to respond to five questions to evaluate the impact of the assignment. Results from the qualitative analysis of the data show the effectiveness of the approach in making the students aware of the importance of diversity in engineering teams and the unique experiences and skills that each team member can bring to the table when solving problems. Findings also indicated students were able to develop their own strategies to incorporate team input. Suggestions to enhance the activity and implications for integrating similar interventions in other mechanics classrooms will also be provided and discussed.

Hedayati Mehdiabadi, A., & Atadero, R. A., & Baker, D. W., & Casper, A. M. A. (2019, June), The Effects of Infusing Diversity and Inclusion into a Design Problem in Engineering Mechanics: Statics Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33387

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