2024 Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity (CoNECD)

stEm PEER Academy: the Power of Human Capital

Presented at Track 1: Technical Session 6: stEm PEER Academy: the Power of Human Capital

Currently in the second year of the NSF INCLUDES Engineering PLUS Alliance, stEm PEER Academy has leveraged the power of human capital to launch cross-institutional collaborations and high impact practices that will ultimately increase the number of BIPOC and women who earn undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees in the United States. As 1 of 5 key performance strategies of the Engineering PLUS Alliance, stEm PEER Academy is designed to train, empower, resource and support a national network of educational change agents who will accelerate implementation of high impact, evidence-based practices at their own institutions and beyond. This network of educational change agents includes administrators, faculty and professional staff who are committed to transforming systems in higher education that have historically marginalized BIPOC and women engineering students. These change agents are committed to removing students’ barriers to preparation, entry, retention, persistence, and success in engineering pathways. As a result of stEm PEER Academy, these change agents are creating cross-institutional transfer pathways and scholarship opportunities plus additional academic supports and learning communities that focus on fostering students’ sense of belonging, identity and self-efficacy in their academic careers. Moreover, these change agents themselves are now part of the stEm PEER Academy learning community and therefore benefit from their own improved sense of belonging, identity and self-efficacy in their individual academic and professional careers. As such, these change agents are vital to our shared mission as they represent the human capital in which stEm PEER Academy invests. Change agents benefit from hours of virtual interactions and mentoring, multiple in-person conference opportunities, and modest financial support. Academy change agents collaborate with each other and with allies at their own institutions and beyond to implement evidence-based practices in their courses, departments, colleges or institutions. This paper outlines several key focus areas that the first cohort of Academy change agents actually pursued including successful NSF proposals, summer programs, academic support programs and transfer pathways. These outcomes would never have been possible without the leadership, support and community of stEm PEER Academy. After incorporating improvements based on feedback from the first year, Academy leadership have begun to lead another cohort of change agents through their journey. Preliminary research indicates that both cohorts of change agents are making progress toward launching even more successful and innovative solutions to enable BIPOC and women to attain undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. Both cohorts have demonstrated professional growth in their understanding of the national engineering education pathway landscape, utilizing data to inform their broadening participation efforts, engaging in evidence-based practices that alleviate students’ barriers to success, and most importantly, building relationships that engage stakeholders at their own institutions, in their region and nationwide. These relationships that change agents have and will be developing across the Engineering PLUS Alliance are critical to leveraging the power of human capital to transform systems and policies of engineering education, one change agent at a time.

  1. Ms. Elizabeth H. Blume Northeastern University Engineering PLUS Alliance [biography]
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