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Tuesday 26 September 2023,

Historically underrepresented groups in engineering still face challenges to entering the field of engineering. Learn about current research that seeks to understand undergraduate experiences today and improvements for the future of inclusivity in engineering.

Engineering at the Intersections: Inclusive cultures, mental health and social justice
Presented by Brooke Coley, postdoctoral researcher, The Polytechnic School

Monday, February 20, 2017
1:30 p.m.
Peralta Hall (PRLTA) 213, Polytechnic campus [map]
Attend this free seminar in person or via Adobe Connect


Specific groups of people have historically been isolated from the profession of engineering. Despite decades of commitment to broaden participation in engineering, people from such groups remain underrepresented. This may be the result of too few works actually challenging the prevailing thought structures in engineering regarding diversity.

This talk will highlight her research addressing underrepresentation in engineering from unique lenses. Specifically, Coley will describe current research exploring undergraduate experiences and associated emotions in engineering, faculty change toward adopting student-centered pedagogies and the perpetuation of existing engineering culture in university-affiliated makerspaces. Coley will extend her current work to connect a vision forward that highlights the importance of addressing engineering as it intersects with mental health, inclusivity and equity, and thus, social justice.

It is critical that engineering, as a professional culture, reorients itself with the purpose of emphasizing a broader range of identity traits to attract and retain individuals with non-normative identities. In the sociopolitical context of today, it is necessary that we look more holistically at the experiences of engineering students, and especially those from marginalized groups. By giving voice to those who have historically been hidden by the numbers, while simultaneously seeking to understand the broader institutional culture, legislation and policies—and their roles in the success of engineering students from underrepresented groups, we can begin to learn what constitutes an inclusive culture in engineering education. This talk will introduce Dr. Coley’s blueprint for attacking these issues head-on.

About the speaker

Brooke Coley, received her doctorate in Bioengineering with a concentration in Biomechanics at the University of Pittsburgh. Following her graduate studies, her desire to study the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), policy and education research led her to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where she became an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. She was selected to serve her AAAS Fellowship at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where she worked in the Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) Division of the Engineering Directorate. Included in her Fellow portfolio was a study assessing the impact of Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) on cultivating diversity in their center environments and transforming cultures of their respective institutions.

Eager to serve in a capacity to directly impact student success, she then went on to serve as the Associate Director for the Center for Diversity at the University of Virginia. In this role, Coley learned that the greatest way she could have an impact was as a faculty member at a High Research Activity university. In order to prepare for this role, she sought out an opportunity to gain formal training in qualitative research in preparation for a successful career as an engineering educator and researcher. Currently, Coley is a postdoctoral researcher in Engineering Education at the Fulton Schools’ Polytechnic School.

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