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Towards the Development of a Research Engineer Identity Scale

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Preparation for Graduate Research

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Bala Ram P.E. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

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Dr. Bala Ram serves as a Professor in Industrial Systems Engineering and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Engineering at NC A&T State University. As a faculty member, he played a significant role in the implementation of a PhD in Industrial & Systems Engineering. Dr. Ram served as the PI for a cross-disciplinary Research Experience for Undergraduates site sponsored by NSF. He is currently the PI for an NSF project on Innovation in Graduate Education. Dr. Ram is an evaluator for the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

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Tobin N. Walton North Carolina A&T State University

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My research is focused on developing interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks and methodological designs capable of modeling the social and psychological drivers of behavior, decision-making, and information processing across multiple domains (e.g., education, food security, the environment).

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Stephanie Teixeira-Poit

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Towards the Development of a Research Engineer Identity Scale

This paper reports on research that is part of a broader National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded, Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) project. The project aims to enhance the research culture and broaden the participation in research of underrepresented groups within graduate engineering programs at a mid-sized historically black college or university. The project includes four initiatives that seek to assist in the development of a “research engineer identity” among the graduate students pursuing research-based degrees in the college. One of the four initiatives of the project, and focus of this paper, involves the development of a survey-based Research Engineer Identity Scale (REIS). A two-stage sequential mixed-method research design is being used to develop the scale. This paper focuses on the first stage in the design which involved conducting focus groups with research engineers to gain insight into the content, character, and complications associated with internalizing a Research Engineer Identity (REI) in general and among people from underrepresented groups in particular. We conducted seven semi-structured focus groups that each lasted approximately 90 minutes in Fall 2019. Each focus group included about 6 to 9 faculty members, industry professionals, or graduate students who are actively engaged in engineering research in the Southeastern United States. Focus group participants represented various academic disciplines within engineering as well as a range of demographic characteristics such as sex, race, ethnicity, and citizenship status. The focus group conversations were transcribed and transcriptions were then entered into NVivo for coding and analysis. Inter-rater reliability procedures were used to ensure consistency of coding. This paper will report on the themes that emerged within the focus group discussions regarding what it means to “be a research engineer.” The findings will describe similarities and differences across demographic characteristics in regard to the content, character, and complications associated with efforts to develop Research Engineer Identity. This paper will conclude by describing the process for using the emergent themes to develop a web-based questionnaire that contains a pool of items to measure Research Engineer Identity.

Ram, B., & Walton, T. N., & Teixeira-Poit, S. (2020, June), Towards the Development of a Research Engineer Identity Scale Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35398

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