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U414·SUNDAY WORKSHOP: Uplifting the Comunidad: A Focus on Latin* Students in Engineering Education at Today’s Colleges and Universities
Workshop Educational Research and Methods Division (ERM)
Sun. June 23, 2024 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
G131, Oregon Convention Center
Session Description

Free ticketed event
The growing population of Latin* engineering students have diverse identities and backgrounds, and they pursue engineering at a range of institutional types across and beyond the United States. Latin* engineering students have increased as a proportion of today’s baccalaureate graduates to as high as 10.4% by 2016, up from 5.9% 20 years earlier (NCSES, 2021). However, Latin* engineering students continue to be underrepresented and face exclusionary engineering contexts. Latin* engineering students navigate a hidden curriculum of knowledges and ways of being not explicitly taught in their course work, which, if unlearned, can hinder their opportunities to succeed and advance in these fields (Villanueva et al., 2020).

Latin* engineering students also face other compounding challenges, including but not limited to stereotype threats based on their intersectional gender, class, race/ethnicity, and other identities (e.g., Rodriguez et al., 2022). To overcome these oppressions, Latin* students often leverage their community cultural wealth and funds of knowledge–assets they bring with them to college – to navigate engineering spaces which might otherwise be potentially hostile learning environments (Revelo & Baber, 2017; Verdín & Godwin, 2018; Wilson-Lopez et al., 2016). Accordingly, enhancing equitable access to engineering classrooms and other opportunities in the field may support Latin* students’ success and retention (see Fluker et al., 2022; Villanueva et al., 2021).

Set up as a Pecha Kucha with a Moderated Panel Discussion, the workshop will feature presentations from 10 teams (approximately 6 minutes each) followed by opportunities for both small- and large-group discussion and the creation of actionable plans for improving engineering education for Latin* students.

The presenters of this interactive symposium possess expertise related to access, equity, and persistence issues for Latin* engineering students in higher education. Collectively, their published works address various identities, contexts, and practices that influence Latin* engineering student success.

Leading the Workshop: Sarah L. Rodriguez, Lara Perez-Felkner, Ciera Fluker & Selected Authors from the upcoming book Latin* Students in Engineering: An Intentional Focus on a Growing Population

Moderated by
  1. Dr. Sarah Rodriguez
  1. Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner
    Florida A&M University - Florida State University

    Lara Perez-Felkner, Ph.D. (she/her/ella) is an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Sociology at Florida State University (FSU) and Senior Research Associate with FSU’s Center for Postsecondary Success. Her research focuses on the mechanisms shaping social disparities in postsecondary access and persistence. This work investigates racial–ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic disparities in postsecondary pathways to educational attainment and scientific careers, especially in computing and engineering fields. Dr. Perez-Felkner co-edited and authored a New Directions in Institutional Research volume on undergraduate women in STEM and a special issue in International Journal for Gender, Science, and Technology. She is actively engaged in and has held various professional leadership roles in societies such as the American Educational Research Association and the Association for the Study of Higher Education. She has been a key campus player in institutional change efforts, including APLU ASPIRE IChange; the President’s Council for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, past co-chair of FSU’s Latinx Faculty and Staff Collective, and a WT Grant Foundation Institutional Challenge Mid-Career Fellow. She is now the PI of an NSF ADVANCE grant team at FSU. Dr. Perez-Felkner has also been a Student Experience Research Network (SERN) Mid-Career Fellow and Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies (ICQCM) NSF Quantitative Critical Methodologies Scholar. She has won a series of awards at FSU for excellence in teaching, advising, and mentoring.

  2. Ciera Fluker

    Ciera Fluker, Ph.D. (she/her/ella) graduated from the Higher Education Program at Florida State University in 2023. She served as a research graduate assistant at Florida State University where her research explored policy and institutional strategies for improving underrepresented racial minority students’ pathways through higher education and engineering. Through her mixed methods research she centers Black and Latin* students’ voices while underscoring their resiliency and success. In addition to education research, Ciera is a skilled training consultant with 10 years of experience leading the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of adult education programs. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in human resources from The Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in adult learning and development from Cleveland State University.

  3. Dr. Sarah Rodriguez
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Sarah L. Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member with the Higher Education Program at Virginia Tech. In her research, she concentrates on identifying and asking urgent questions about systemic inequities such as racism, sexism, and classism that marginalized communities experience as they transition to and through their engineering and computing higher education experiences.

  4. Maria L Espino M.A
    University of California, Los Angeles

    Maria L. Espino, Ph.D. (she/her/ella) is a Postdoctoral Researcher at San Diego State University and a Research Analyst at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dra. Espino is a first-generation Queer Latina who is a proud daughter of immigrants. She earned her Ph.D. in the Higher Education Administration Program from Iowa State University. She obtained her master’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at Marquette University and her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a double major in Community and Nonprofit Leadership and Gender and Women studies. She is a proud product of the Milwaukee Public school district in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a qualitative researcher, she explores (in)equities in higher education, particularly focusing on the experiences of systematically excluded students. As a scholar, she believes that it is important to not only conduct research but it is also crucial to humanize, empower, and support the community. In STEM, she has supported various NSF-funded projects focusing on equity in STEM, in both students and faculty. To learn more about her and her work visit

  5. Adriana Facundo
    Boise State University

    Adriana Facundo (she/her) is the inaugural Director of the Micron Student Success Center in the College of Engineering at Boise State University and a doctoral student in the Higher Education Leadership program at Colorado State University. She is originally from Michigan and attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI and received a Master of Arts in Higher Education Student Affairs at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She is Mexican-American and was a first-generation college student who grew up in a low-income household; her entire educational experience from kindergarten through her undergraduate career were spent navigating predominantly white spaces and environments. This combination of lived experiences has directly informed Adriana’s commitment to institutionalizing equitable student support structures for BIPOC students at PWIs to foster their sense of belonging and mattering. Additional research interests are around Latinx student identity and voice development, BIPOC staff retention, and coalition building in predominantly white institutions. She has 9 + years of experience in student leadership development, orientation, transition, and retention work.

  6. Rene Alberto Hernandez
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    René Hernandez is a Salvadoran first-generation graduate student in Virginia Tech’s School of Education. He is pursuing his Ph.D. in Higher Education with a cognate in Engineering Education. He has more than 10 years of K-12 and higher education experience which he leverages towards his pursuits of helping others find success in education. He has an evolving research agenda focused on pathways, policy, and how it shapes undergraduate engineering education, with specific attention to first-generation college students, low-income, and immigrant populations. He is currently working on two NSF grants that focus on STEM and Engineering students.

  7. Kevin Jay Kaufman-Ortiz
    Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

    Kevin Jay Kaufman Ortiz (he/him/él) is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. In May 2021, he received his B.S. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). During his undergraduate years, he obtained a teaching certification in math education at UPRM and became certified by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico. His current interests lie in belonging, acculturation, and migration of engineers from the U.S. territories to the mainland. He has also previously explored broad topics like ecological classroom belonging, LGBTQ+ inclusion, knowledge transfer between physics and engineering concepts, and data analysis on protein expression. Kevin hopes to keep working with people from minoritized communities of non-visible identities and with efforts toward true inclusion in engineering.

  8. Dr. Tonisha B Lane
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Tonisha B. Lane, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Higher Education in the School of Education at Virginia Tech. She received her Ph.D. in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education from Michigan State University. She studies the experiences and outcomes of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Her research also focuses on the recruitment, retention, and well-being of Black students and professionals in higher education. Using a variety of methodological designs, and with the support from Spencer Foundation and the National Science Foundation, she has explored underserved, undergraduate researchers in remote research environments amid COVID-19; pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate learners in STEM enrichment programs; and the recruitment and retention of early career women of color faculty in STEM. Her published work can be found in CBE-Life Sciences Education, Equity and Excellence in Education, and Urban Education

  9. Mr. Brian Le
    University of California, Los Angeles

    Brian Le (he/him/his) is currently a Ph.D. student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change (HEOC) program at UCLA. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology & health from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Marquette University. Prior to attending UCLA, Brian worked at Iowa State University for 4 years as a student’s program coordinator for the Science Bound program, a pre-college through college program focused on working with scholars from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue a degree in STEM. He has been a research affiliate on multiple NSF-funded projects surrounding equity in STEM. Brian’s research interests are college access, retention, marginalized students, community colleges, first-generation, STEM education, STEM identity development and engineering education.

  10. Mr. Leonardo Pollettini Marcos

    Leonardo Pollettini Marcos is currently a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Education program at Purdue University. He received a bachelor's degree in Materials Engineering and a master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil. Leonardo also served as one of the national directors for the student branch of the Brazilian Society of Engineering Education from 2019 to 2020. His research interests lie in global perspectives on the accreditation of engineering programs, curriculum development, and assessment.

  11. Dr. Janice Mejía
    Northwestern University

    Janice Mejía, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University. Her research interests focus on mixed methods in engineering education, curriculum assessment and development, and engineering identity. Dr. Mejía earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, an M.A. in Organizational Leadership, and M.A. in Higher Education Administration, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education. Prior to joining Northwestern, she worked in for-profit and non-profit sectors to optimize technologies, processes, and policies in organizations.

  12. Dr. Renata A Revelo
    The University of Illinois at Chicago

    Renata A. Revelo, Ph.D. is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was a first-generation college student, migrated from Ecuador to the United States as a teenager with her parents and sister. She is the first in her family to obtain a Ph.D. Her research focuses on shifting the culture of engineering via the study of engineering identity which centers students of color and examines systemic change.

  13. Dr. Sarah Rodriguez
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Sarah L. Rodriguez, Ph.D. (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member with the Higher Education Program at Virginia Tech. Her engineering education research agenda centers upon engineering and computing identity development of historically marginalized populations at higher education institutions. In her research, she concentrates on identifying and asking urgent questions about systemic inequities such as racism, sexism, and classism that marginalized communities experience as they transition to and through their engineering and computing higher education experiences. Currently, Dr. Rodriguez is involved with several large-scale interdisciplinary research projects focused on institutional environments and STEM identity development sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Kapor Center. In recent years, she was selected as an Early Career Awardee and Faculty Fellow with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and a NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader. She also received the Barbara Townsend Early Career Scholar Award by the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) and gave the distinguished ASHE-CAHEP Barbara Townsend Lecture. To learn more about her current projects, visit

  14. Mr. Hector Enrique Rodríguez-Simmonds
    Purdue Engineering Education

    Héctor E. Rodríguez-Simmonds, Ph.D. was raised in South Florida and born in Mexico. Half Colombian and half Mexican; proud Mexilombian. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Engineering at Boston College. Before receiving his Ph.D. in Engineering Education, he earned his master's degree in electrical and computer engineering. Héctor's research primarily investigates how students negotiate their visible and less visible identities as they form their professional engineering identity, specifically at the intersection of their racial/ethnic, sexual orientation, gender, and engineering identities. Héctor’s research projects range from collaborative autoethnographic inquiries investigating how engineering students intertwine and leverage the power of their varied identities in engineering, neurodivergence, and disability in engineering, and examining the structural factors that impact student experiences in computer engineering courses. Héctor has taught first-year engineering courses for several years and is invested in showing learners he cares about them and their future success. He creates a space where learners can feel safe to experiment, iterate, and try different problem-solving approaches while encouraging learners to be critical of their professional practice so they create effective, holistic solutions that work for a broader range of individuals.

  15. Lisette Esmeralda Torres-Gerald

    Lisette E. Torres (she/her/ella) is a trained scientist and disabled scholar-activist who is a Senior Researcher at TERC, a non-profit made up of teams of math and science education and research experts. She is also the Director of Operations and Communication for the new national NSF AISL equity resource center called the Reimagining Equity and Values in Informal STEM Education (REVISE) Center. Torres has a Ph.D. in Education with a Certificate in Social Justice from the School of Education at Iowa State University and a M.S. in Zoology with a Certificate in Ecology from Miami University. Her academic research focuses on addressing racialized gender justice and disability in science and higher education. She is an active member of Science for the People, a co-founder of Sines of Disability: Dismantling ableism in mathematics and beyond, and a co-founder and former executive board member of the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD). Torres is also an advisory board member of Science Friday’s Breakthrough Dialogues Program and the Invisible Disability Project (IDP). Lastly, she has been identified as a Kavli Foundation Sponsored Network Leader for Inclusive Science Communication.

  16. Ulises Juan Trujillo Garcia

    Ulises Trujillo Garcia (he/him/él) is pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education Systems and Design at Arizona State University. He has held a number of leadership positions during his undergraduate career, which earned him a variety of accolades. These experiences helped him identify his passion which is rooted in supporting Latina/o/x students with migrant farm working backgrounds in higher education, especially in engineering spaces. Currently, Ulises is working on a project titled "Empowering Children of Migratory/Seasonal Farmworkers with Gamification and Culturally-Responsive Engineering Design Instruction." He is a fellow for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a former fellow for the Station1 Frontiers Fellowship, the Micron Academy for Inclusive Leadership, and HACU ¡Adelante! Leadership Institute. In the summer of 2021, Ulises started a scholarship for migrant students in Eastern Oregon to pursue higher education, raising over $12,000 in scholarship dollars for this population. As a first-generation, low-income Latino from a farm-working family, he is passionate about helping his community and devotes his time to diverse educational and leadership causes.

  17. Mr. Cristian Eduardo Vargas-Ordonez P.E.
    Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

    Cristian Vargas-Ordóñez (he/él) is a Colombian Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Purdue University focusing on epistemic justice, diversity and multicultural engineering education. As a first-generation professional, gay, yoga teacher, dancer aficionado, and english as a second language (ESL) student. His publications about social justice in engineering education, compassion resulting from interdisciplinary education, and international engineering graduate students' well-being reflect this awareness. Vargas-Ordóñez has expertise in educational programs serving first-year engineering students, museums, and underrepresented pre-college students. His educational background includes an M.A. in Education from the University of Los Andes (Colombia), an M.Sc. in Science, Technology, and Society from the National University of Quilmes (Argentina), and a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of America (Colombia). He has been recognized through various awards and grants, including the Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for Excellence in Teaching, the CILMAR Seed Grant program, and the Bryon Fellowship.

  18. Dr. Dina Verdin
    Arizona State University, Polytechnic Campus

    Dina Verdín, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She graduated from San José State University with a BS in Industrial Systems Engineering and from Purdue University with an MS in Industrial Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Education. Her research program is dedicated to promoting equity and inclusion in engineering by confronting the pervasive barriers facing minoritized students. Her work seeks to address the challenges Latinx, first-generation college students, and women in engineering face by focusing on two research strands: access and persistence. Dr. Verdín seeks to create culturally responsive opportunities that broaden access to engineering, while simultaneously dismantling the systemic obstacles that hinder minoritized students’ persistence. With this work, Dr. Verdín is committed to transforming engineering education and ensuring that all minoritized students can thrive. She has won several awards including the 2022-2023 Outstanding Research Publication Award by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division I, the 2022 ASEE ERM Apprentice Faculty Grant, and the 2018 ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference Best Diversity Paper Award.

There are currently 38 registrants interested in attending