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Why Has Female Enrollment in One Engineering Elective Increased to Almost 80% Over the Past Six Years?

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Mark M. Budnik Valparaiso University

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Mark M. Budnik is the Paul H. Brandt Professor of Engineering at Valparaiso University. Prior to joining the faculty at Valparaiso University in 2006, Mark worked in the semiconductor industry, culminating as a Principal Engineer and Director of White Goods and Motor Control at Hitachi Semiconductor. He is the author of more than fifty book chapters, journal articles, and conference proceedings. Mark’s current research interests are in the field of creativity and innovation instruction. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Fellow of the International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design.

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Over the past six years, one engineering elective at Valparaiso University has seen a dramatic, continuous increase in its female enrollment. While Valparaiso University’s female engineering enrollment oscillates around the national average, enrollment in ECE490 (Innovation in Engineering Design) has risen steadily from 19% to 77%.

The class introduces design as a multi-disciplinary concept and is open to all engineering majors. The first half of the semester is offered on Valparaiso University’s campus. Students then participate in a five-day field trip, traveling from our midwest campus to Disneyland(C) Resort in Anaheim, California, or Walt Disney World(C) Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. At the parks, students participate in multiple workshops and tours focusing on engineering, design, creativity, innovation, leadership, teamwork, and communication. Sessions are led by either Valparaiso University faculty or Disney Parks Cast Members. After returning to campus, students complete the final seven weeks of the semester at Valparaiso University. This paper will provide a more detailed description of ECE490. This paper will also introduce several theories to explain the increasing enrollment of women in the class. We will present our conclusion that the increase in female enrollment is a result of a number of different factors, rather than one single reason.

Budnik, M. M. (2017, June), Why Has Female Enrollment in One Engineering Elective Increased to Almost 80% Over the Past Six Years? Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29127

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