PIECE: Project for Inclusion in ECE
Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) as a discipline struggles to recruit and retain women and underrepresented minorities. Diversity and inclusion in ECE is a complex problem with many contributing factors, and the solutions are not often straightforward. The puzzle has many pieces: students, faculty and staff interact with department culture, policy and curriculum, all of which affect the diversity and inclusion of our department. We believe this puzzle requires an equally multifaceted approach. We assemble viewpoints from people across ECE to tailor solutions for our community. Please take a look at our committee and our project description for more information.
ECE Broadening Participation Plan
The departmental Broadening Participation Plan provides context, including current demographics, and 5-year goals, activities and metrics. The BP Plan is intended to leverage individual interests and activities by providing a framework for faculty, staff, students and alumni to participate in programs within the School and with partner organizations within the College. The goals, activities and metrics address recruitment, retention and climate for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty/academic staff. The means for measuring outcomes are also described.
Inclusive Teaching Strategies for ECE Faculty
ECE faculty serve as formal and informal mentors, and role models for students, so student-faculty interactions can make a big difference in how students perceive the inclusivity of the department. As faculty, you can make a difference in diversity and inclusion by incorporating inclusive ideas into what you already do every day.
Based on ECE student interviews and research on inclusive teaching in engineering, we've compiled a tip sheet for ECE faculty with simple ideas to get started with inclusive teaching.
This project acknowledges three interrelated problems currently recognized in the professional formation of engineers: the gap between school experiences and practice, the perception of engineering as solely technical, and the lack of diversity and inclusion in engineering. We assert that these are not separate problems, but are in fact linked and deeply connected to engineering culture, curriculum and practice. They cannot be fixed individually, but require a processual, contextual and integrative approach.
Therefore, we approach these problems with design thinking by partnering with the ECE community to identify problems and design solutions within the unique context of ECE, and with our community's specific needs in mind. The iterative nature of design allows us to adapt our approach as we learn more about how these complex problems manifest in ECE.
Our committee brings together stakeholders from across the ECE community to identify and design solutions for problems of diversity, equity and inclusion in our department. Faculty, staff and students of all levels are invited to share their experiences and ideas.
- TA training: This mandatory training is the first of its kind in the entire College of Engineering.
- ECE Broadening participation plan: This is the first-ever plan developed in the Elmore Family School of ECE, which is the largest in the University. Further, this is the first time that quantitative success metrics have
been used to set School-wide goals.
- Faculty interviews: For the first time, every candidate at all levels and positions (including lecturers) was interviewed to provide actionable feedback to the Head to ensure future faculty contribute to a diverse,
inclusive community and climate where all individuals at Purdue can thrive.
- DEI Discussion Group: The discussion group provides a forum for faculty and staff to discuss current D&I; topics related to academic or industry topics of relevance to ECE. The group meets monthly during the AY and
generally utilizes an article or video as a discussion-starter.
- FYE to ECE Bridge Program: We are developing a bridge program for students transitioning from First-Year Engineering (FYE) to ECE. The goal is to improve the retention, climate and success of students entering ECE.
Specific focuses include technical preparation, real-world examples and community building.
Research publications resulting from our work with ECE include:
- Eddington, S., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Brightman, A. O., & Corple, D., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2019, June), Tensions in Applying a Design-Thinking Approach to Address Barriers to Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in a Large, Legacy Engineering Program. Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33362
- Eddington, S. M., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Brightman, A. O., & Joshi, R., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Torres, D. (2018, June), Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering: Students’ Perceptions of Learning and Engaging with Difference. Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30340