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  1. The ways in which students encounter school can markedly shape how they form professional identities and continue into the engineering workforce. This is particularly true for those students who experience a variety of disabilities, as they must simultaneously manage and navigate disability-related cultural, academic, physical, and bureaucratic university structures and form professional identities. In this paper, we describe the evolution of an ongoing NSF-sponsored project exploring professional identity formation in undergraduate civil engineering students with disabilities as they experience their undergraduate careers and move into the workforce. To provide context for this ongoing work, we summarize the background, sensitizing concepts, and updated research procedures underpinning this study. We then focus our discussion on our emergent findings to-date, which includes the identification of a sub-process referred to as Establishing Definitions of Self. Overall, these findings begin to highlight the nuance and fluidity of disability identity as students form professional identities as civil engineers. 
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  2. Context: Within higher education, reports show that approximately 6% of Australian college students and 13% of U.S. college students have identified as having a disability to their institution of higher education. Findings from research in K-12 education report that students with disabilities often leave secondary school with lower college aspirations and are discouraged from taking engineering-related courses. Those who do enrol are often not supported effectively and must navigate physical, cultural, and bureaucratic university systems in order to access resources necessary for success in school and work. This lack of support is problematic as cognitive, developmental, mental health, and physical disabilities can markedly shape the ways in which students perceive and experience school, form professional identities, and move into the engineering workforce. However, little work has explored professional identity development within this population, specifically within a single engineering discipline such as civil engineering. Purpose: To move beyond tolerance and actively embrace students with diverse perspectives in engineering higher education, the purpose of this study is to understand the ways in which undergraduate students who experience disability form professional identities as civil engineers. Approach: Drawing on the sensitizing concepts of identity saliency, intersectionality, and social identity theory, we utilize Constructivist Grounded Theory (GT) to explore the influences of and interactions among students' disability and professional identities within civil engineering. Semi-structured interviews, each lasting approximately 90 minutes, were conducted with undergraduate civil engineering students who identified as having a disability. Here, we present our findings from the initial and focused coding phases of our GT analysis. Results: Our analyses revealed two themes warranting further exploration: 1) varying levels of disability identity saliency in relation to the development of a professional identity; and 2) conflicting colloquial and individual conceptualizations of disability. Overall, it has been observed that students' experiences with and perceptions of these themes tend to vary based on characteristics of an experienced disability. Conclusions: Students with disabilities experience college - and form professional identities - in a variety of ways. While further research is required to delineate how disability shapes college students' professional identities and vice versa, gaining an understanding of student experiences can yield insights to help us create educational spaces that better allow students with disabilities to flourish in engineering and make engineering education more inclusive. 
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