BUILDING BRIDGES TO STEM CAREERS FOR MINORITY STUDENTS IN MINNESOTA
University of Minnesota (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Current design practices and academia lack minority representation in the United States. For example, statistics show 50% of all black graduates of design programs in the United States come from seven American Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Studies indicate that minority and underrepresented grades K through 12 students are seldom exposed to opportunities in design and unaware of career prospects in the profession. To this end, the Building Bridges to STEM Careers for minority students emerged out of the intention to create a dialog on diversity and design between grades K through 12 students, college level design students, college faculty, and design professionals. Since 2013, annual panels, workshops and summer camps have engaged diverse participants in design problem-solving exercises focused on cultural expressions in the built environment.
Our activities have focused on four goals:
(i) Understanding and exposure to the different career opportunities available in design.
(ii) Experiencing hands-¬on design processes and activities in design, three-dimensional modeling and digital fabrication focused on the intersection between math and science.
(iii) Collaboration with students, faculty and minority design professionals, and
(iv) Understanding contributions of minorities and underrepresented designers to the built environment to create an inclusive design pedagogy.
The program is structured to include after school design and making workshops, summer design and making camps, lectures and panel discussion. In the after school design and making workshop, grades K through 12 students are guided through design ideation, concept sketching, and modeling exercises. The week-long summer design and making camp focuses on daily hands-on activities on design, three-dimensional modeling, fabrication and field trips to design firms. Lectures and panel discussion for grades 6 through 12 students focus on learning about global design history, multicultural design perspectives and diverse contributions to the built environment.
Since 2013, the impact of the program has been accessed with pre- and post-surveys, participants engagement levels and tracking career paths of the participants (n=112). The themes that have emerged from the data collected include awareness of design thinking and making processes, design career exposure, design digital technology, design networking, teamwork and collaboration. Upon completion of the program, participants have reported increased knowledge of design and they have enrolled in design schools and internship programs in firms.
Overall, the program has been successful in bringing diverse group of participants to the University campus. Our creative hands-on activities has exposed underrepresented students to design early to create a pathway to increase diversity representation in the design profession. The program has created an inclusive design pedagogy through opportunities that help underrepresented children understand the historic contributions of minorities and underrepresented designers. This presentation will highlight findings and lessons learned from the Building Bridges to STEM Careers for minority students to serve as a model for other educators and audiences interested in creating diverse pathways to the design profession.
Keywords: STEM education, K-12, Minority students, Design.