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Practical Strategies for Inclusive Engineering Education

Melissa Bilec Leads $300K NSF Project to Foster Inclusivity in Engineering Education

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 28, 2020) — More inclusive classrooms improve learning and academic performance, and under-represented students in particular benefit from inclusion. Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, is leading a project called “Collaborative Research: Increasing Implementation of Proven Inclusivity Practices in Undergraduate Engineering Education” that will provide tangible guidance to educators for operating an inclusive classroom. 

“There is a lot of advice about how to think about inclusivity in the classroom, but when I write a syllabus and plan the arc of a course in engineering, there’s a lack of go-to strategies and actionable advice,” said Bilec, who is also Roberta A. Luxbacher Faculty Fellow and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. “Our end goal is to provide pragmatic, proven and trusted practices on inclusivity in the engineering classroom specifically.”

Bilec will partner with co-PI April Dukes, Faculty and Future Faculty Program Director at the Swanson School’s Engineering Education Research Center, on the project, along with Kristen Parrish at Arizona State University and Amy Landis at the Colorado School of Mines. 

“Faculty want their students to succeed in the classroom. Many who have tried a few inclusive strategies, don’t see the results they expect and become discouraged,” said Dukes. “We want engineering faculty to succeed in their efforts of inclusion sustainably, by learning how to implement proven strategies which create classrooms where learning is possible for every student.

The three-year project was awarded $300,000, with $183,829 designated for Pitt.

Author: Maggie Pavlick

Contact: Maggie Pavlick