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Disasters are becoming more frequent as the global climate changes, and recovery efforts require the cooperation and collaboration of experts and community members across disciplines. The DRRM program, funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT), is an interdisciplinary graduate program that brings together faculty and graduate students from across the university to develop new, transdisciplinary ways of solving disaster-related issues. The core team includes faculty from business, engineering, education, science, and urban planning fields. The overall objective of the program is to create a community of practice amongst the graduate students and faculty to improve understanding and support proactive decision-making related to disasters and disaster management. The specific educational objectives of the program are (1) context mastery and community building, (2) transdisciplinary integration and professional development, and (3) transdisciplinary research. The program’s educational research and assessment activities include program development, trainee learning and development, programmatic educational research, and institutional transformation. The program is now in its fourth year of student enrollment. Core courses on interdisciplinary research methods in disaster resilience are in place, engaging students in domain-specific research related to natural hazards, resilience, and recovery, and in methods of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration. In addition to courses,more »Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
Interest in increasing both the number and diversity of students enrolling in engineering has resulted in significant research on students’ career choice decisions. Notably, however, while general trends have emerged, many of the models that have been developed focus on majority students. But an increasing body of work on students from a variety of specific demographic groups highlight unique socio-cultural experiences that influence individuals’ career choice decisions. Most relevant to this study, literature on rural students suggests that the lack of high-level STEM courses in rural schools and a desire to stay close to home played key roles in limiting students’ consideration of engineering as a potential career. However, little work has explored how rural communities support and promote engineering as a career choice for their students. Therefore, this study explored the ways in which rural communities provide support to help students make fully informed decisions about engineering as a college major. The findings presented here come from Phase 2 of a three-phase study exploring engineering career choice among rural students. Using interview and focus group data collected from current engineering students in Phase 1, Phase 2 turned to community members, including high school personnel, local industry leaders, members ofmore »
Broadening participation in engineering is critical given the gap between the nation’s need for engineering graduates and its production of them. Efforts to spark interest in engineering among PreK-12 students have increased substantially in recent years as a result. However, past research has demonstrated that interest is not always sufficient to help students pursue engineering majors, particularly for rural students. In many rural communities, influential adults (family, friends, teachers) are often the primary influence on career choice, while factors such as community values, lack of social and cultural capital, limited course availability, and inadequate financial resources act as potential barriers. To account for these contextual factors, this project shifts the focus from individual students to the communities to understand how key stakeholders and organizations support engineering as a major choice and addresses the following questions: RQ1. What do current undergraduate engineering students who graduated from rural high schools describe as influences on their choice to attend college and pursue engineering as a post-secondary major? RQ2. How does the college choice process differ for rural students who enrolled in a 4-year university immediately after graduating from high school and those who transferred from a 2-year institution? RQ3. How do community membersmore »
Broadening the Participation of Rural Students in Engineering: Preliminary Findings on the Perspectives of Key Community MembersWhile post-secondary enrollment rates have increased for all groups over the last 40 years, higher education enrollment, and specifically enrollment in engineering programs, continues to vary based on demographic characteristics. As a result, efforts to spark interest in engineering among PreK-12 underrepresented students have increased substantially in recent years. However, as past work has demonstrated, interest is not always sufficient to help students pursue engineering majors, particularly for rural students. In many rural communities, strong family networks, community values, and local economic drivers often play a significant role in shaping students’ career choices. To account for these contextual factors, this project shifts the focus from individual students to the communities themselves to understand how key stakeholders and organizations support engineering as a major choice. Our research aims to gain a holistic understanding of the rural communities by employing three phases: 1. Focus groups and interviews with undergraduate engineering students from selected rural high schools that are known for producing high numbers of engineering majors. 2. Interviews with key individuals (e.g. teachers, guidance counselors, community leaders) and observations of activities that emerged as salient in Phase 1. 3. Participatory design workshops to share findings from the first two phases and fostermore »