Increasing Diversity in Engineering: Capacity Building Matters

  • Joanita M. Kant (South Dakota State University)
  • Suzette R. Burckhard (South Dakota State University)
  • Whitney K. Kilts (South Dakota State University)
  • Kyungnan Min (South Dakota State University)


In an effort to prepare more Native American engineers, counting the numbers who complete the educational task is important. More often overlooked, however, is that capacity building is another key measure of success, since reaching critical mass to obtain the numbers may take considerable time. In this paper, the co-authors are both the researchers and the research subjects. We are four engineers and scientists with advanced degrees with key roles in a multi-year collaborative pre-engineering education initiative between a tribal college and two mainline universities. From our perspectives at one of those two mainline universities, we each wrote an essay reflecting on pre-determined questions. We briefly present our qualifications and then assess capacity building related to the summer camp experiential learning aspect of the initiative. We qualitatively analyze the essays and present persistent themes, along with consensus and divergent opinions. Five common themes dominated the essays including the importance of: using experiential learning pedagogy, building lasting relationships, networking, including cross-disciplinary connectivity, and taking advantage of positive but unintended consequences. We provide a recommended bibliography for faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate student interns to provide a shared base of knowledge to improve collaborative cohesion.

How to Cite:

Kant, J. M. & Burckhard, S. R. & Kilts, W. K. & Min, K., (2014) “Increasing Diversity in Engineering: Capacity Building Matters”, 2014 ASEE North Midwest Section Conference 2014(1), 1-27. doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/aseenmw2014.1014

Rights: Copyright © 2014, Joanita M. Kant, Suzette R. Burckhard, Whitney K. Kilts, and Kyungnan Min

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Published on
17 Oct 2014
Peer Reviewed