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Title: Diversity and Inclusion in Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering Education
It is well-known that women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM fields. This is true of mechatronics and robotics engineering (MRE), despite targeted K-12 activities, such as the FIRST Robotics Competition, that aim to increase diversity in engineering. This paper is a first step in assessing the current status of women and underrepresented minorities (URM) as well as investigating solutions to increase diversity and support inclusion of these groups specifically in MRE. The paper examines challenges and potential solutions identified in The 4th Future of Mechatronics and Robotics Education and in an online survey of the MRE college instructor community. Survey participants reported on courses, programs, clubs, and outreach events at the college level. The sample size is small, but the data provide initial findings to inform further study. Qualitative text analysis was used with the survey data. Five themes emerged, ordered from most frequent to least: the instructor’s perspective, social context of MRE, specific attributes of MRE, pre-college interventions, and in-college interventions. The most promising new ideas are in curriculum reform to incorporate social context into engineering education and in expanding STEM outreach by colleges to elementary and middle schools. Existing programs should also be strengthened, including robotics competitions, more » NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates, STEM summer camps, bridge programs, and affinity programs. Other important aspects include actively engaging parents, and working to be more inclusive of first-generation Americans and first-generation college students. The paper concludes with initial suggestions to increase diversity and inclusion in MRE and areas for further study. « less
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ASEE annual conference exposition proceedings
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National Science Foundation
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