Join us for a virtual seminar series on topics related to race and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
The Borderlands of Engineering Education: Legitimizing the Lived Realities of Latino/ a/x Students through Conocimiento
Joel Alejandro (Alex) Mejia, associate professor with joint appointment in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies and the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio. His work seeks to analyze and describe the assets, tensions, contradictions and cultural collisions many Latino/a/x students experience in engineering through testimonios. He is particularly interested in approaches that contribute to a more expansive understanding of engineering in sociocultural contexts, the impact of critical consciousness in engineering practice, and the development and implementation of culturally responsive pedagogies in engineering education. He holds a BS and MS in metallurgical engineering from The University of Texas at El Paso and The University of Utah, respectively, and a PhD in Engineering Education from Utah State University.
Latinos/as/xs have become perpetually otherized in schools, and particularly in engineering fields, by the enactment of policies and the persistence of deficit ideologies. For example, social constructions such as culturally deprived or culturally disadvantaged were used to create the myth that Mexican American children and their households were inadequate to reach the same academic achievement as Whites. As a result, the number of Latinos/as/xs in engineering continues to be stagnant even after many years of efforts on increasing diversity and inclusion. A lack of understanding of the sociopolitical forces that impact the lives of Latino/a/x students in engineering make it difficult to critically analyze and eliminate deficit thinking in engineering education. This presentation will focus on the importance of describing and challenging deficit models in engineering education research to provide better opportunities for participation and inclusion for marginalized students. Anzaldúa’s seven-stage exploration of conocimiento will be introduced as a lens to explore the narratives and lived realities of Latino/a/x engineering students. The overall purpose is to describe how conocimiento as a framework can help explore and problematize the experiences, strategies, and more importantly narratives of Latino/a/x engineers told from their own tongues and authentically interpreted according to their lived realities.
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