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Transforming Engineering Through PEERS: Building a Better Experience for Underrepresented Students


The project proposes to integrate NSF-funded efforts at the University of Washington (UW) in an innovative way to improve the experiences of underrepresented undergraduate minorities, women and students with disabilities in the College of Engineering. A primary catalyst for this synergy is the use of the UW’s PEERs project (Promoting Equity in Engineering Relationships), which seeks to positively impact the climate of engineering through a cadre of change agents who create and encourage improved and more equitable relationships. The four institutional partners for the proposed collaboration are the institution’s:

1. ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change;

2. Center for Workforce Development;

3. Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching (CELT); and

4. Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT).

These institutional partners will use the PEERs model to enhance the goals of three NSF-funded projects and to leverage lessons learned from the existing awards to work toward improving the climate for and the participation of underrepresented minority, female and disabled engineering students; and provide a foundation for campus-wide replication. The three NSF awards upon which the I³ project will build include:

1. Collaborative Research - Northwest Engineering Talent Expansion Partnership: A Coordinated Regional Recruitment and Retention Effort (DUE-0431659);

2. CCLI: Developing Engineering Lifelong Learners Through Freshman Seminars and Faculty Development Workshops (DUE-0737535); and

3. Northwest Alliance for Access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (HRD-0227995).

Four primary objectives will be achieved by this project

1. Raise awareness of unconscious and implicit biases toward underrepresented minority, women and disabled students;

2. Promote actions both majority and underrepresented minority, women and disabled students and faculty can take to counteract these biases to cultivate a more welcoming and success-promoting climate;

3. Cultivate change agents among both student and faculty bodies; and

4. Build a foundation, and collaboration mechanisms, for future efforts to make STEM and other programs campus-wide welcoming and accessible to underrepresented minority, women and disabled students.


Start: April 01, 2009
End: March 31, 2014

Project Members:


University of Washington

Project Website:


Award Number: