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Developing Curriculum to Educate Engineers on Unconscious Bias

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Engineers spend several years studying intense technical details of the processes that shape our world, yet few are exposed to classes addressing social behaviors or issues. Engineering culture creates specific barriers to addressing social science issues, such as unconscious bias,

Engineers spend several years studying intense technical details of the processes that shape our world, yet few are exposed to classes addressing social behaviors or issues. Engineering culture creates specific barriers to addressing social science issues, such as unconscious bias, within engineering classrooms. I developed a curriculum that uses optical illusions, Legos, and the instructor's vulnerability to tackle unconscious bias in a way that addresses the barriers in engineering culture that prevent engineers from learning social science issues. Unconscious bias has documented long-term negative impacts on success and personal development, even in engineering environments. Creating a module in engineering education that addresses unconscious bias with the aim of reducing the negative effects of bias would benefit developing engineers by improving product development and team diversity. Engineering culture fosters disengagement with social issues through three pillars: depoliticization, technical/social dualism, and meritocracy. The developed curriculum uses optical illusions and Legos as proxies to start discussions about unconscious bias. The proxies allow engineers to explore their own biases without running into one of the pillars of disengagement that limits the engineer's willingness to discuss social issues. The curriculum was implemented in the Fall of 2017 in an upper-division engineering classroom as a professional communication module. The module received qualitatively positive feedback from fellow instructors and students. The curriculum was only implemented once by the author, but future implementations should be done with a different instructor and using quantitative data to measure if the learning objectives were achieved. Appendix A of the paper contains a lesson plan of the module that could be implemented by other instructors.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Pedestrian Safety at Rural Road and Spence Avenue

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Recurring incidents between pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles at the intersection of Rural Road and Spence Avenue led to a team of students conducting their own investigation into the current conditions and analyzing a handful of alternatives. An extension of an

Recurring incidents between pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles at the intersection of Rural Road and Spence Avenue led to a team of students conducting their own investigation into the current conditions and analyzing a handful of alternatives. An extension of an industry-standard technique was used to build a control case which alternatives would be compared to. Four alternatives were identified, and the two that could be modeled in simulation software were both found to be technically feasible in the preliminary analysis.

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Created

Date Created
2016-05

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Evolution of Women in Engineering

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Women have evolved in the engineering profession over the decades. However, there is still a lot more room for female presence in the industry as women currently make up about 12-15% of working engineers. Based on many studies and surveys,

Women have evolved in the engineering profession over the decades. However, there is still a lot more room for female presence in the industry as women currently make up about 12-15% of working engineers. Based on many studies and surveys, it is clear that female confidence in their own performance and a feeling of belonging in the industry has evolved for the better. The studies and surveys also show that women still lack a certain confidence to get their engineering degree and then to pursue a career in engineering once they receive their degree. Research shows that the main cause for this is due to the stereotype that engineering is a masculine profession. Men and women both have this mindset because it has become a societal norm that most people go along with and do not even realize it. Unfortunately, it is very hard to overcome and change a societal norm, therefore, something needs to be done in order to fix this mindset. (Crawford). Based on studies and research, there are many ways the stereotype is being combatted. Social media has become a huge component in advocating for female engineers. Men and women are helping to fight the status quo by supporting female engineers and lobbying against people who think women do not belong in the industry. Industry professionals are teaming up with schools to figure out ways to make STEM programs more exciting for all young kids, but especially girls. They are also working to provide more mentors and role models for young girls in order to cheer them on and make them more confident in their abilities when learning and applying the STEM curriculum, as studies have proven that providing young girls with mentors can really help foster more female engineers in the long run. (Crawford). With all of the positive support and promotions of female engineers in the past few years, it is evident that women can certainly progress at a much faster pace than in previous decades.

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Created

Date Created
2016-05

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Impacts of understanding conation on student satisfaction with engineering programs

Description

Engineering education has long sought to incorporate greater diversity into engineering programs to prepare the profession to meet the engineering challenges of society. Increasing or retaining the conative diversity of engineering programs may help extend other kinds of diversity in

Engineering education has long sought to incorporate greater diversity into engineering programs to prepare the profession to meet the engineering challenges of society. Increasing or retaining the conative diversity of engineering programs may help extend other kinds of diversity in the profession as well (Marburger, 2004). One measure of conation is the Kolbe ATM index.
Kolbe ATM is an index developed by Kathy Kolbe to measure the conative traits on an individual. The index assigns each individual a value in four categories, or Action Modes, that indicates their level of insistence on a scale of 1 to 10 in that Action Mode (Kolbe, 2004). The four Action Modes are:

• Fact Finder – handling of information or facts
• Follow Thru – need to pattern or organize
• Quick Start – management of risk or uncertainty
• Implementor – interaction with space or tangibles

The Kolbe A (TM) index assigns each individual a value that indicates their level of insistence with 1-3 representing resistant, preventing problems in a particular Action Mode; 4-6 indicating accommodation, flexibility in a particular Action Mode; and 7-10 indicating insistence in an Action Mode, initiating solutions in that Action Mode (Kolbe, 2004).

To promote retention of conative diversity, this study examines conative diversity in two engineering student populations, a predominately freshmen population at Chandler Gilbert Community College and a predominately junior population at Arizona State University. Students in both population took a survey that asked them to self-report their GPA, satisfaction with required courses in their major, Kolbe ATM conative index, and how much their conative traits help them in each of the classes on the survey. The classes in the survey included two junior level classes at ASU, Engineering Business Practices and Structural Analysis; as well as four freshmen engineering classes, Physics Lecture, Physics Lab, English Composition, and Calculus I.

This study finds that student satisfaction has no meaningful correlation with student GPA.
The study also finds that engineering programs have a dearth of resistant Fact Finders from the freshmen level on and losses resistant Follow Thrus and insistent Quick Starts as time progresses. Students whose conative indices align well with the structure of the engineering program tend to consider their conative traits helpful to them in their engineering studies. Students whose conative indices misalign with the structure of the program report that they consider their strengths less helpful to them in their engineering studies.
This study recommends further research into the relationship between satisfaction with major and conation and into perceived helpfulness of conative traits by students. Educators should continue to use Kolbe A (TM) in the classroom and perform further research on the impacts of conation on diversity in engineering programs.

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Created

Date Created
2015-05

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An Analysis of Craft Labor Productivity

Description

Productivity in the construction industry is an essential measure of production efficiency and economic progress, quantified by craft laborers' time spent directly adding value to a project. In order to better understand craft labor productivity as an aspect of lean

Productivity in the construction industry is an essential measure of production efficiency and economic progress, quantified by craft laborers' time spent directly adding value to a project. In order to better understand craft labor productivity as an aspect of lean construction, an activity analysis was conducted at the Arizona State University Palo Verde Main engineering dormitory construction site in December of 2016. The objective of this analysis on craft labor productivity in construction projects was to gather data regarding the efficiency of craft labor workers, make conclusions about the effects of time of day and other site-specific factors on labor productivity, as well as suggest improvements to implement in the construction process. Analysis suggests that supporting tasks, such as traveling or materials handling, constitute the majority of craft labors' efforts on the job site with the highest percentages occurring at the beginning and end of the work day. Direct work and delays were approximately equal at about 20% each hour with the highest peak occurring at lunchtime between 10:00 am and 11:00 am. The top suggestion to improve construction productivity would be to perform an extensive site utilization analysis due to the confined nature of this job site. Despite the limitations of an activity analysis to provide a complete prospective of all the factors that can affect craft labor productivity as well as the small number of days of data acquisition, this analysis provides a basic overview of the productivity at the Palo Verde Main construction site. Through this research, construction managers can more effectively generate site plans and schedules to increase labor productivity.

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Created

Date Created
2016-12