IUSE/PFE: RED: REvolutionizing Diversity Of Engineering (REDO-E)
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Numerous national reports assert improving diversity of students in key engineering majors, such as aerospace, mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, are national priorities. While lack of diversity in aerospace engineering has been acknowledged as a problem for over 20 years, past and current initiatives have not achieved substantial progress. Through the REvolutionizing Diversity Of Engineering project, the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University will dramatically improve the diversity, inclusion, and quality of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members. The transformation will be achieved through three strategies: (a) Increasing department activity and visibility of non-traditional applications of fundamental aerospace engineering content, such as a shifting from an almost exclusive focus on airplanes and spacecraft to emphasizing more modern applications, including energy systems, the environment, healthcare, and quality of life; (b) Supporting student success through widespread use of student-engaged instructional strategies to address more diverse learners and learning styles, faculty development programs to improve student-team dynamics and student-instructor relationships, and self-paced, competency-based modules to complement existing curricula for all undergraduate aerospace students; and (c) Increasing diversity and excellence of departmental faculty through changes in faculty hiring practices.This project applies the literature on organizational change, faculty development, student engagement, microaggressions, implicit bias, and student success to design and enact a comprehensive departmental transformation. The project will (a) create and annually update self-paced, competency-based online modules to remediate barriers faced by aerospace engineering students with non-traditional demographic characteristics, backgrounds, and learning styles; (b) include non-traditional applications in the curriculum; (c) train faculty to use instructional strategies to address and remediate microaggressions and implicit biases and incorporate active learning pedagogical techniques in their classrooms; and (d) improve breadth of recruitment and retention efforts to support increased diversity and success of students. Addressing the issue of diversity from multiple dimensions (including recruitment, curriculum redesign, student-engaged instructional approaches, faculty development, and interventions to improve faculty diversity) increases the likelihood that project goals will be achieved. The REDO-E project has prepared extensive research and evaluation plans to determine the extent to which these initiatives are achieving transformation goals. Research initiatives will address each of the above goals through four research questions: 1) How will incorporating non-traditional applications of aerospace into the core curriculum affect diversity? 2) To what extent will an intensive faculty development program affect diversity, classroom climate, and department climate? 3) How will use of online, self-paced, competency-based modules affect diversity? 4) To what extent do the proposed set of interventions impact the diversity of an aerospace department over time? This project aligns with college goals for improving diversity and college administration support for groundbreaking project approaches. The department, which is part of a university system that has nine engineering programs, will further team with department heads from highly ranked peer institutions and participate in a yearly forum of aerospace engineering department heads from across the nation. These resources will be engaged to support discussions on adaptability and scalability that can lead to larger impacts and revolutionize engineering education.This project is jointly funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education; the Division of Engineering Education and Centers; the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation; the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems; and the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships; reflecting the alignment of this project with the respective goals of the divisions and their programs.