Considering engineering education: Increasing Native Hawaiian representation




Nguyễn, T. T. & Serna, A. Kuʻulei.


A University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa team of engineers and educators seek to understand the gaps in progression of Native Hawaiian (NH) students to academic career in engineering and thus to create an education model to increase their career interest in the professorate. In this presentation, we will describe a series of six workshops called A‘o in Engineering designed to support interested senior and graduate engineering students in their pursuit of a graduate degree and perhaps the pursuit of a professorship. Though all engineering senior and graduate students were welcome to participate, only 23 participated, 4 of whom where NH graduate students and 13 NH senior level students. A current online search for role models in engineering will return results for the need for women in engineering and female engineer role models. We agree with those results, but add that perhaps the most underrepresented ethnic group in engineering is Native Hawaiians. According to the 2011 US Census, the combined working population of NHs, Pacific Islanders, and ‘Other Race’ (grouped by U.S. Census due to small sample size) represents 4.6% of the total U.S. workforce but only 1.4% of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations. This makes NHs and Pacific Islanders the most underrepresented ethnic group in the nation in STEM employment, more so than Hispanic, African American, and American Indian and Alaskan Native groups1. In the state of Hawai‘i, NHs comprise 23% of the state of Hawai‘i population. Though the enrollment of Native Hawaiians (NH) has increase significantly from 2005 to 2016 with 46% growth, the percentage of students remains the same at 15%. In Fall 2016, NHs comprise only 14.8% (n=1,953) of the undergraduate student body and 14.1% (n=696) of the graduate student body. Of those, 41 students were in civil engineering, 37 in electrical engineering, and 44 in mechanical engineering. In graduate studies, 2 were in civil engineering, 4 in electrical engineering, and 2 in mechanical engineering. 3.8% faculty at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa are NH. Of the 1,578 STEM faculty at UH Mānoa, there are only four NH STEM faculty members, which comprise a fraction of one percent. One of those four is an engineering professor, and she is a rare person in the engineering field. Workshops Alaka‘ina a me wahi noho like o ka poʻe: Leadership and community May 5, 2017 ʻŌlelo noʻeau. I ka hana no a ‘ike: By practice one masters the skill. April 21, 2017 Hana Ka Lima: The doing of teaching March 10, 2017 Alaka‘i (Leadership), An Engineering Path February 10, 2017 Guest speakers: Dr. Oceana Francis and Dr. David Stout Kūkā Kūkā, A‘o mai and a‘o aku December 2, 2016 Connecting your mo‘olelo to a‘o November 18, 2016


Nguyễn, T. T. T., & Serna, A. K. K. (2017). Considering engineering education: Increasing Native Hawaiian representation. Presented at 41st Annual Pacific Circle Consortium Conference, Hiroshima, Japan.