Alberto Esquinca, Ph.D., associate professor of bilingual education in the College of Education, is one of four scholars who received an award from the National Science Foundation to put on a national conference that promotes equity in engineering. The project includes TERC, a research-based organization to improve mathematics and science education; Utah State University; Angelo State University and UTEP.
The team will use $184,672 to bring together experts across the United States to an invited, interdisciplinary conference. The Literacy for Engineering Access and Participation (LEAP) Conference, scheduled for May in San Antonio, will bring together experts in the fields of literacy education, engineering, education and broadening participation of underrepresented minorities in engineering.
“Our expectation is that, by bringing together a substantial group of experts, we will be able to articulate an agenda for research and practice with the aim of promoting equity in engineering across settings and grade levels,” Esquinca said.
LEAP aims to investigate the ways in which literacies in engineering can broaden participation among groups currently underrepresented in engineering, including African-Americans, Latinas/Latinos and Native Americans.
“There has been a rapid and exponential increase in K-12 courses that incorporate engineering,” he said. “Thousands of K-12 teachers across the country – including science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers – have sought to make engineering design practices accessible to their culturally, linguistically and socioeconomically diverse students. Consequently, engineering education needs promising instructional approaches for supporting students’ literacy learning and the ways in which literacies, as a part of learning practices, can help work toward equity. At the same time, equity in engineering also means asking critical questions about the sources and types of problems engineering, as a discipline, takes up.”