About ECoPaC


Welcome to ECoPAC!!! Our group mission is to foster cultural and social change that positively influences how people learn and their sense of agency within engineering communities. Our group fosters a collaborative and inclusive environment that recognizes, supports, and celebrates the contributions of all of our team members.

You can scroll down or use the following quick links to learn important working definitions to understand our work, what we do, and how to join our team.

Before you continue, some working definitions…

Engineering education research is the field of inquiry that creates knowledge which aims to define, inform, and improve the education of engineers (e.g., policy, epistemology, assessment, pedagogy, diversity).

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Communities include any group such as faculty, students, design teams, professional societies, and technical labs that wish to enact their agency for change. 

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Strategic Agency corresponds to deliberate efforts by certain change agents to achieve specific goals and ambitions, individual and/or collective. 

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Participatory change refers to change initiatives in which the individuals who will experience the change are invited to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the nature, scope, and timing of the change proposal. 

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Transformational change is a frame-breaking change that completely alters the current operating structure, such as processes, people, and technology.

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Equitable practices means that the teaching and research conducted levels the playing field so that underrepresented voices are prioritized and centered.

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Systematic review is defined as a review of the evidence on a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant primary research and extract and analyze data from the studies included in the review

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Qualitative methods seek an in-depth understanding of social phenomena within their natural setting. It focuses on the “why” rather than the “what” of social phenomena and relies on the direct experiences of human beings as meaning-making agents in their every day lives.

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Quantitative methods emphasize objective measurements and the statistical, mathematical, or numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires, and surveys, or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques.

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About our research in engineering

ECoPAC is committed to adopting equitable teaching and social research practices in our work. Our research focuses on understanding the role of engineering communities while enacting their agency in participatory and transformational change. Our research design includes qualitative and quantitative methods using a broad range of theoretical approaches and cross-disciplinary boundaries.

Why do we do social research in engineering?

  1. To support a wide array of students in their engineering formation. Academic institutions and professional organizations have increasingly called for engineering faculty to cover the social implications of techno-economic fundamentals in their undergraduate courses. However, little is known about the transfer of knowledge between academic institutions and professional organizations and its influence on undergraduate engineering formation. Our group sees this research gap as an opportunity to gather the knowledge needed to support various students in their engineering formation.
  2. To serve our professional engineering organizations. As a sophomore in 1999, PI Rivera-Jiménez became a member of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE) to attend her first national conference representing the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM). As a first-generation Latina engineer, she engaged in professional networking and technical opportunities at AIChE that helped develop her professional identity as an engineer. In combination with her networks in the education divisions in both AIChE and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), she finds herself in a unique position of trust to conduct the proposed work as an insider.
  3. To get expertise in rigorous and equitable social research methods. Social scientists and researchers use social methods to learn about people and societies to design products/services that cater to various needs of the people. As an engineer, I find that we could improve how we gather this crucial data to develop new solutions for society’s welfare. Imagine if the data collected from social media, interviews, surveys, and observations of how people behave can be analyzed so that we can identify new opportunities and solutions. Having social research skills could have a significant impact on technologies such as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Our research group will use qualitative and quantitative methods using various theoretical approaches and cross-disciplinary boundaries. For more information, check out: Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices. 

Learn more about

ECoPaC Why Engineering Education Research?

Interested in joining ECoPAC?

Students belonging to our group will gain skills in

  • conducting systematic literature reviews
  • social research design
  • research methods validation
  • data collection (both qualitative and quantitative)
  • data analysis (e.g., thematic coding, MAXQDA, SPSS)
  • dissemination of results (e.g., publications, presentations, workshops).

Project Capstone Design Skills for Early ChemE Undergraduates