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Addressing Diversity In A Problem Based Learning Team Assignment
Many companies now require diversity training of their employees and expect them to be aware of issues related to diversity in the context of engineering practice. The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET is also considering adding issues of diversity and inclusion into the engineering accreditation criteria in the near future. Including such issues into an engineering curriculum can be problematic, however, as few engineering programs have a full course devoted to either diversity issues or engineering ethics. A Problem Based Learning (PBL) set of assignments has been developed to address concepts of diversity and inclusion, which can be included in engineering courses such as a freshman introduction to engineering course. As the majority of the work takes place outside the classroom, it does not require a significant amount of class time. The 3-week series contains a team-based component, consisting of a group research project, including interviews with persons expected to have differing viewpoints on the issue chosen, and an oral presentation to the class. Individual elements of the set include both pre- and post-assessments of students’ attitudes toward the issue addressed. Different groups select different aspects of diversity to investigate, based on approval of the instructor, and have in the past included topics such as the gender pay gap, age-related differences in computer use, and third world access to technology. Groups must take and defend an ethical engineering position on their issue, justifying their stance based on relevant engineering codes of ethics. This paper will include the details of the set of assignments, ideas on how it could be adapted and included in a variety of courses, and examples of how the student work can be used in ABET assessment.