Addressing the Lack of Racial Diversity in an Engineering Co-op Program

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Elizabeth Essex


Engineering Co-op Program at Midwestern Private University offers support for students seeking relevant work experience, yet only a small percentage of racially underrepresented undergraduate engineering students engage with the program. Understanding this inconsistency is important for progressing towards more equitable approaches. Prior research has shown that connection is an influential factor in a racially underrepresented student’s decision for participation in a program (Foote et al., 2019; Boyd et al, 2022; Wilson & Morieson, 2022; McIntosh & Nutt, 2022; Voisin et al., 2023; Zuchowski et al., 2023). Using the race-conscious student engagement framework, this mixed methods study collected data through surveys and interviews over several months. Findings echoed previous research: racially underrepresented engineering students desire connection and support. If those students are not finding either within the Co-op Program, then there is opportunity for continued development and enrichment for both the program and its staff.


racially underrepresented students, internships and co-ops, engineering, diversity, equity, inclusion, engagement, connection, support

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