Increasing Engineering Identity Among Diverse Students through Global Engagement. Thanks @IFEESTweets

Thank you to the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES) for inviting me to be a speaker for this morning’s webinar on Global Engagement in Diversity. Our leaders and panelists were Dr. Christina White, Dr. David Delaine, and Dr. Stephanie Farrell.

Here are a few of the slides from the presentation.

Cover IFEES Webinar

This is the cover page, with a subset of our delegation to Costa Rica for the 2016 Conference of the Latin and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions. This photo shows students and colleagues from UMES, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and the University of Maryland College Park. We’d split into two groups on this particular day, but we had other participants from the computer science program at Bowie State University with us as well. This photo is taken in front of the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. 


Affirmation – Invitation to Engage

I spent a bit of time talking about STEM identity, and the importance of affirming our students and colleagues in their roles as engineers and scientists. In communities where students may be first-generation college students, or where there are few role models, it may be difficult for students or even professionals to feel comfortable in pursuit of their chosen profession. Within science and engineering, there is a tendency to perpetuate unnecessary rites of passage, and imaginary points of entry, that become barriers to those who seek to engage and collaborate. In particular, people from underrepresented groups often feel disconnected from STEM opportunities at various levels because they have not been invited to engage in the process. While some may think that “a personal invitation is not needed,” our programs adopt a different approach of “inviting participants to engage.” Particularly through the work of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) PROMISE AGEP, and now with work from the (NSF) USM LSAMP, we recognize from the Carlone & Johnson work on STEM identity, that affirmations from other, established professionals in the field (e.g., professors, STEM professionals, industry leaders) lead to an increase in underrepresented students’ participation and engagement.

We’ve moved that lesson to the global sphere, and are seeking ways to involve more diverse students in international activities. This increase does not happen passively. An active approach is more successful. In general, faculty often take active approaches as they mentor and invite students to participate in various opportunities, e.g., internships, a special lecture. However, underrepresented students may not necessarily receive those same direct invitations if there are unconscious biases regarding perceptions of their ability or interest. It is important that we, as educators, do not assume to know the full range of interests of our students, but that we take time to invite them to participate in meaningful professional development activities. All of the invitations cannot be sent via an email blast, nor can we relegate “inviting” to posting a flyer on the wall. We must take additional steps to have conversations with students to make them aware of opportunities, and to let them know that you want them to participate.  The unwritten message in such an invitation is:

“I believe in you.” “I support you.” “You are worthy of this endeavor.” 

The slide below was shared with today’s international audience. This is a set of recommendations for increasing the global engagement of diverse students.

Active not passive engagment global

Prior to each trip, our team holds a hybrid in-person/webinar orientation to prepare students for the encounter, covering expectations, cultural competencies, and cultural differences. In situations where they may be “minority,” we discuss cultural issues, advice from colleagues who are in those countries who have shared with us in advance, and appropriate actions.


In 2017, our team seeks to involve students in activities that are sponsored by the Latin and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (this year, the LACCEI conference is in Florida), and the World Engineering Education Forum in Malaysia. Further, students who attend the LACCEI conference will have a chance to participate in “Cyber for All” workshop by the EC Council (ethical hacking) which will provide access to the  2017 Global Cyberlympics in the Netherlands. The groups will also participate in activities sponsored by World SPEED – The Student Platform for Engineering Education Development, which places a large emphasis on issues related to humanitarian engineering and attention to the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges. 

Next 2017 Global Engagement

We invite more faculty and students from underrepresented groups to join the global efforts. Through organizations such as LACCEI and IFEES, we will look forward to welcoming you.


Please feel free to download our publications on diversity in engineering. Dr. Delaine and I are part of the paper below.

Global Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Education: Developing Platforms toward Global Alignment

The American Society for Engineering Education also provides opportunities to download full papers,

They are also listed individually here:





Please share! Leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s