About the Project

This Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE) project, funded by the National Science Foundation, facilitated an online community of practice and held and disseminated results from a meeting of multiple stakeholder groups to support a national research agenda for broadening engineering participation by those self-identifying as persons with disabilities; veterans; low income/first-generation persons (LIFG); and persons of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) identity. The project was led by Dr. Julie Martin, Clemson University; Dr. Amy Slaton, Drexel University; and Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, University of Washington.

The goal of this project was to build capacity to conduct formal research in broadening participation of these underserved and underserved groups. Project objectives included

  • developing an understanding of how to best increase research capacity in the area of study proposed;
  • conducting a conference of individuals representing a wide range of stakeholder groups who will contribute to the project goal;
  • developing summary proceedings for the conference that include a synthesis of input presented at the meeting as a contribution toward creating a research agenda around the project goal; and
  • disseminating findings through the project website, online forums, and conferences that project leaders and participants routinely attend.

The representation of persons of minority identity in engineering, including the groups of particular concern to this project, remains disproportionate across all sub-disciplines in American engineering. BPE worked to “bring to the table” scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and other thought leaders from diverse fields in a one and a half day conference and further engagement online to explore this inequitable landscape. Participants identify existing research and frame new research possibilities regarding engineering participation by persons from these underserved communities. Outcomes included proceedings of the conference with a synthesis of the conference discussions by the planning committee that can serve as a research agenda for this area of inquiry. The project advanced knowledge and understanding regarding the experiences of underserved students and concerned faculty and researchers, and explored transformative concepts.

Participants addressed critical research questions around the experiences of underserved and understudied communities that include those questions suggested by intersectional inquiries. The project also promoted teaching and learning, broadened participation of under-represented groups in engineering, and disseminated results widely through engagement within an ongoing community of practice. Project activities created an unprecedented system of exchange among stakeholders, on which researches can draw while shaping projects, seeking research funding, implementing findings, and/or developing project evaluations.

Together, we tackled difficult questions:

  • What theories, critical questions and methodologies can promote intersectional research in engineering education?
  • How do current methodological decisions reproduce marginalization of underrepresented and underserved students?
  • How does the nature of funding agencies influence what is done in engineering education research?

Learn More About the Project


Project outcomes included:

  • a network of individuals interested in promoting the project goal who are also members of an online community in which they can further engage.
  • conference proceedings that capture the discussions of the meeting and summarize challenges and opportunities identified during the conference and synthesized by the planning committee.

Ultimately, project efforts should result in increased quantity and quality of research proposals submitted to NSF that focus on broadening participation in engineering.

Contact Us

Request information about the project at doit@uw.edu.