Professors Awarded NSF Grant to Support LGBTQ Engineering Students

November 21, 2016

Congratulations to WPI Humanities and Arts Professor Kristin Boudreau, Chemical Engineering Professor David DiBiasio, Humanities and Arts Professor Jennifer McWeeny, and Biomedical Engineering Professor Zoe Reidinger for their National Science Foundation Award: Research Initiation: Understanding the Conditions for Inclusive Spaces for LGBTQ Engineering Students. The 2-year project aims to understand the conditions that help LGBTQ engineering students feel comfortable in their educational institutions. Engineering schools are notoriously inhospitable to LGBTQ people, with costly results for LGBTQ students and society. While researchers understand the conventions of engineering culture that can damage LGBTQ engineering students and engineers, they still know very little about how engineering cultures can support these same engineers. Our interdisciplinary research team of humanists and engineers will identify the elements of the most inclusive and supportive spaces in order to develop ways to extend these elements into engineering classrooms and other formal learning experiences.  They will identify those educational practices and spaces that are most conducive to the growth, success, and self-confidence of LGBTQ engineers, as well as understand how their professional formation transpires. In identifying experiences and practices that are most supportive of LGBTQ engineering students, they will also identify the experiences that help develop the emotional intelligence and cross-cultural sensitivity supports all engineers, including but not exclusively other underrepresented populations.