Best Diversity Paper

Award Description

The ASEE Best Diversity Paper Award was approved and first implemented in 2015 as part of the Year of Action on Diversity.The award strives to enhance the visibility and sustainment of actions in support of diversity and engineering, which is empowering society in unprecedented ways. Engineering and diversity are at the core of innovation and can address Grand Challenges facing the US and the world. In order for the engineering discipline to reach its full potential, however, the engineering education community and the engineering profession must better include all segments of our society. In particular, engineering must actively engage and help promote the pursuit of engineering education and engineering careers with those individuals who have been historically under-represented within engineering. ASEE believes that diversity and inclusiveness is essential to enriching educational experiences and innovations that drive the development of creative solutions in addressing the world’s challenges. We learn from experiences, beliefs, and perspectives that are different from our own. Diversity, demographically, intellectually, and socially, fuels innovation and the development of imaginative and enduring solutions to global problems. The ASEE Statement on Diversity and Inclusiveness is available here:

Thus, the Best Diversity Paper Competition seeks to identify highly impactful efforts by ASEE authors that broaden participation in engineering and influence the inclusive, diverse future of engineering. The inaugural year, monetary awards were made possible by a generous donation from the Mechanical Engineering Division. In subsequent years, the award has been funded in the same manner as other ASEE Best Paper awards.


Diversity dimensions addressed can include (but are not limited to): age, belief system, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and any other visible or non-visible differences.

Please note: The Best Diversity Paper is a completely separate process from the Best Paper selection process run by the PIC chairs at the Annual Conference. A division/section/zone may identify two separate papers for these entirely independent best paper competitions.

Mechanism #1: Papers from the ASEE Annual Conference

Individual reviewers are asked to nominate papers they review for the Best Diversity Paper Competition. Outstanding manuscripts that address any aspect of Diversity (see statement) may be nominated via the pull-down menu in the review window. This is encouraged at the draft stage, but will remain available at the final paper stage. The reviewers are asked to justify the basis for their nomination in their comments to the chair. Program chairs will compile the nominations for their division; each division has the latitude to select the best nomination from the division and forward to the ASEE Diversity Committee. Nominations by Program Chairs should include: (a) division name, (b) paper title, (c) author(s), (d) corresponding author email address, (e) electronic copy of the paper, and (f) 2-3 sentence summary of the paper and how it is diversity centric or highlights diversity. All manuscripts nominated for best diversity paper will be flagged in the final program.

Mechanism #2: Papers from any Section/Zone Conference

Papers published within any section/zone conference proceedings between May 1 to April 30 for the year prior to the conference may be nominated. Section/Zones have the latitude to develop/use any evaluation procedure to identify suitable papers and to select the best nomination from the section/zone. A section/zone may nominate 2 manuscripts for consideration by the ASEE Diversity Committee selection committee provided the manuscripts address different, but critically important, diversity-related topics. Nominations by Section/Zone Conference Chairs should include: (a) section/zone name, (b) conference date, (c) paper title, (d) author(s), (e) corresponding author email address, (f) electronic copy of the paper, and (g) 2-3 sentence summary of the paper and how it is diversity centric or highlights diversity.

Award Selection Process

For both mechanism #1 and #2, program chairs and section/zone leadership are asked to submit their paper nominations to the ASEE Diversity Committee via email ( by the beginning of May. Notifications for the top 5-7 diversity papers will be sent in mid-May. Authors will be invited to present their papers in a special session at the ASEE Annual Conference. Recognition of the best diversity papers across ASEE divisions and zones will be presented at the special session, with the top awards announced later in the conference and presented at the subsequent ASEE Annual Conference.

Nominated diversity papers will be assessed for a) novelty of approaches/ideas/ interventions, b) extent of inclusivity, c) demonstrated impact, and d) communication effectiveness through both writing and presentation quality. The selection committee will complete a two tiered review to first identify those papers with a diversity centric theme. Papers that have simply reported responses of an underrepresented group separately are not considered to have a diversity centric theme. The second review will be against the ASEE Best Diversity Paper rubric ( to assess novelty and scholarship attributes of the manuscript. The ASEE Diversity Committee will appoint a Selection Committee to review the papers. Members of this committee will also attend the special session to select the Best Diversity Paper using a through d criteria above and determine the Best Diversity Paper for each year based on the manuscript and audience impact of presentation.

Frequency of Award

Best Diversity Papers will be selected annually during the annual conference review process and concurrently from the section/zone meetings. Awards will be presented at the annual conference for which the papers were submitted in a dedicated session for the top 5 to 7 selected best diversity papers. This session will be organized by the ASEE Diversity Committee. The best paper/presentation from this best diversity paper session will be identified and forwarded to ASEE. This best-of-the-best paper will be presented alongside the PIC best papers at the subsequent annual conference.

2016 Winner and Finalists

Finalists for the 2016 Best Diversity Paper Award, listed below, presented their award winning papers at a Best Diversity Papers session at the annual meeting.

Paper Title Division/Zone
(WINNER) Mapping Assets of Diverse Groups for Chemical Engineering Design Problem Framing Ability
by Vanessa Svihla, Abhaya K. Datye, Jamie R Gomez, Victor Law, and Sophia Bowers (University of New Mexico)
Chemical Engineering Division
Instructional Strategies for Incorporating Empathy in Transdisciplinary Technology Education
by Colin M. Gray, Luciana de Cresce El Debs, Marisa Exter, and Terri S. Krause (Purdue University, West Lafayette)
Engineering Ethics Division
Where are they Now? Analyses of Alumnae Data
by Andrea L Welker (Villanova University)
Civil Engineering Division
'Turning away' from the Struggling Individual Student: An Account of the Cultural Construction of Engineering Ability in an Undergraduate Programming Class
by Stephen Douglas Secules, Andrew Elby, and Ayush Gupta (University of Maryland, College Park)
Educational Research and Methods Division
The Effect of Financial Support on Academic Achievement and Retention of Female Engineering Students
by Yang Lydia Yang and Bette Grauer (Kansas State University)
Women in Engineering Division
A Multi-Institutional Study of the Relationships between Nontraditional and Traditional Undergraduate Engineering Students
by Tressa Kay Mikel, Frank Q. Hoang, Emi Okada, Pedro Sung Hoe Kim, Audrianna Rodriguez, Maria-Isabel Carnasciali, Shannon Ciston (University of California, Berkeley/ University of New Haven)
Pacific Southwest Section

Click here for a list of past winners.