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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Hawaii
  • Woochul Lee
  • (808) 956-2370
  • Albert S Kim
  • Noelani Puniwai
  • Joni Sasaki
Award Date:04/13/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 641,379
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 641,379
  • FY 2021=$641,379
Start Date:04/15/2021
End Date:03/31/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Breaking Barriers to Participation: A Cultural Approach to Increasing Native Hawaiian Representation in Engineering
Federal Award ID Number:2034824
DUNS ID:965088057
Parent DUNS ID:009438664
Program:EDA-Eng Diversity Activities
Program Officer:
  • Christine Grant
  • (703) 292-7107

Awardee Location

Street:2440 Campus Road, Box 368
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Hawaii
Street:2440 Campus Road, Box 368
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

Enhancing diversity can lead to success, not only for minorities, but for everyone. Multicultural experiences can make people more creative, and diverse groups are more likely to think deeply and achieve higher quality outcomes compared to homogenous groups. In universities and in the workplace, embracing the talents and experiences of people from diverse backgrounds will be beneficial for society more broadly. Yet certain groups are underrepresented in universities and in particular fields. Specifically, Native Hawaiians are one of the most underrepresented groups in the engineering workforce and also in engineering programs at four-year institutions. As the primary public institution in Hawai‘i, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa serves a central role in engaging Native Hawaiians in engineering programs. Native Hawaiian engineering graduates will have numerous benefits in their future careers (including higher wages) and can have various opportunities to contribute to their local communities. In this light, it is presently important to use evidence-based approaches and seamlessly adapt preexisting practices in engineering education for supporting more Native Hawaiian students. This project will increase the participation of Native Hawaiians in engineering, with implementation via educational and mentoring initiatives and specific focus on outcomes at the graduate level. Broadening the participation of Native Hawaiians in university engineering programs will benefit the Native Hawaiian community while also strengthening the U.S. engineering workforce as a whole. To support Native Hawaiian students’ retention in engineering programs and pursuit of graduate degrees, we aim to provide key resources and support first at the undergraduate level. Specifically, this project will: 1) identify potential culture-specific barriers for entering graduate engineering programs through a cultural psychological approach; 2) develop course materials originating from Native Hawaiian culture for a more culturally aligned engineering education; and 3) establish multi-disciplinary programs for professional development and cohesive mentoring based on students’ academic and personal needs. This project will develop culture-based pedagogical tools consistent with Native Hawaiian ways of learning and integrate them within the engineering curriculum. In addition, we will establish professional development and mentoring programs to create an environment that fosters Native Hawaiians’ educational aspirations and stimulates Native Hawaiians to thrive in their future engineering careers. We expect that our evidence-based approach, combined with concrete educational and mentoring initiatives, will increase Native Hawaiian students’ sense of belonging, academic performance in engineering, and interest in engineering graduate program enrollment. By increasing inclusion of Native Hawaiians, the culture of engineering programs at UHM will be transformed to enable greater diversity. The broad participation of Native Hawaiians in engineering graduate programs will further enhance diversity in a wide range of engineering job sectors. Furthermore, Native Hawaiian individuals with strong engineering backgrounds will be able to play a much-needed role in bridging a gap between policy makers and the local Native Hawaiian community to understand unique cultures and perspectives on each side. Findings and outcomes from this project have high potential to benefit others, who are underrepresented in STEM including, but not limited to, Other Pacific Islanders, Alaska Native and Native American individuals. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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