Ingenieros Ingeniosos (Ingenious Engineers): Connecting Latinx Youths’ Workplace Practices with Engineering through Out-of-School Time Programs

August 1st, 2021 - July 31st, 2026 | PROJECT

Millions of Latinx youth, aged 14 to 18, work formal or informal jobs to provide income for themselves or their families. In the context of these workplaces, Latinx youth demonstrate numerous skills that are essential to industrial engineering, such as minimizing workplace injuries or optimizing processes to maximize efficiency. However, their workplace ingenuity and skills are often underrecognized by educational systems. To counter this lack of recognition, the purpose of this project is to iteratively develop and research an out-of-school engineering program for working Latinx youth. This program is designed to recognize and build from youths’ workplace experiences by connecting them with industrial engineering concepts and practices, such as those used to promote worker safety. This program is also designed for youth to articulate transformational visions of industrial engineering, which expand current goals, values, and methods commonly embraced within this discipline. This year-long program will be facilitated by educators of existing out-of-school programs (e.g., Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement), in partnership with undergraduate mentors from the Society for Professional Hispanic Engineers and other local organizations that serve Latinx youth (e.g., Latinos in Action). Approximately 220 youth are expected to participate in the programming. Researchers will explore whether and how youth participants develop identities in engineering, as well as how the educators and mentors understand and enact assets-based, out-of-school engineering education grounded in youths’ experiences. Researchers will also identify the individual, institutional, and systemic factors that support or inhibit sustained implementation of the program over time in different sites and contexts. This project will result in a set of empirically tested, bilingual program materials that will be disseminated widely to professional organizations dedicated to out-of-school programming and to serving Latinx youth.

This project will result in a localizable, transferable, and sustainable model for an out-of-school time program that recognizes and amplifies Latinx youths’ workplace funds of knowledge and leverages them toward youth-driven visions and applications of engineering. This program, which will connect with other people and sites in youths’ learning ecosystems, is grounded in principles of translanguaging, transformational mentorship, and educational dignity and recognition. In partnership with youth participants, researchers will use a social design experiment to explore the following research questions: What are the engineering identity trajectories of working high school youth, and how do specific moments of identity negotiation and recognition relate to broader patterns across program sessions and identity trajectories for individual participants over time? To answer these questions, a pre-, mid- and post-program Engineering Identity Scale; recordings of program implementations; interviews; and youth artifacts will be analyzed using various methods such as critical multimodal discourse analysis. After implementations of the program across multiple sites, researchers will use design-based implementation research to answer the following questions: How do educators and mentors understand and enact assets-based pedagogies designed to foster recognition across sites? What institutional and systemic features (designed or naturalistic) support or inhibit productive adaptations and implementations of the program? These questions will be answered using constant comparative analyses of data sources such as interviews with the program educators and mentors, observations of program implementations, observations of professional development sessions, and public documents. Culturally responsive, educative evaluation will be used to iteratively improve the program. The resulting research and program materials will be disseminated widely through professional organizations dedicated to Latinx youth, engineering education, and out-of-school learning.

This Innovations in Development project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to (a) advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments; (b) provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; (c) advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and (d) engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2023 AISL Awardee Mini-Poster: 2115472

Team Members

Amy Wilson-Lopez, Former Principal Investigator, Utah State University
Alfonso Torres-Rua, Co-Principal Investigator
Marisela Martinez-Cola, Former Co-Principal Investigator
Colby Tofel-Grehl, Principal Investigator, University of Utah
Alfonso Torres-Rua, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Utah


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 2115472
Funding Amount: $648,558.00


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Undergraduate | Graduate Students | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Engineering
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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