To make students more successful in careers, one university diversifies its curriculum

An overhaul of the technical curriculum is taking place at Colorado State University (CSU) to help foster diverse and inclusive mindsets, writes Jessica Cox for Source, the university's news website.

In order to attract the most talented engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, there has to be a commitment to making STEM as inclusive as possible, says Rebecca Atadero, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at CSU.

Step by step: How to create a plan for improving diversity

Starting in fall 2019—with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation—texts for freshman and sophomore engineering courses at the institution will begin including case studies that highlight diversity and inclusion. In one example, students might study how the original versions of vehicle airbags were too powerful for women and children, writes Cox. In another example, students could study how the initial versions of voice recognition software weren't compatible with the voices of women or people with accents.

Atadero argues that these inclusive case studies will make students more successful in their careers because they will be better prepared to anticipate and prevent potential user challenges in their designs.

Program officials hope to expand the initiative to other universities. They also want to study how the curriculum affects students after they take the courses and throughout the remainder of their time in school, writes Cox. Among their goals are to help eliminate unconscious biases students may carry before they enter their careers, and thereby improve their ability to make the world a better place through their contributions to science and technology (Cox, CSU Source, 7/19).

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