“You choose between TEAM A, good grades, and a girlfriend – you get to choose two!” – How a culture of exclusion is constructed and maintained in an engineering design competition team

Abstract
Engineering student design-build competition teams provide an opportunity for engineering students to practice engineering technical and professional skills. However, as the student quoted in the title states, the opportunity has conditions attached to inclusion and acceptance. Using a case study of TEAM A based on a qualitative-mixed methods design and a cultural constructionist lens, we identify and explain how a culture of exclusion is constructed and maintained in this competition team. Primary data consists of interviews and questionnaire with TEAM A members. Additional data includes competition rules, web sites, institutional and team artifacts.

TEAM A’s ethos of commitment drives a culture of exclusion and limits broad participation on the team. Core-committed members accrue the status and highest benefits available to TEAM A members. The demands of being core-committed, including an extraordinary time commitment usually precluding employment, social, and other academic activities, limit access to participation. Students who are unable to make these sacrifices are excluded from the advantages of TEAM A membership. No structural conditions were identified that mitigate this culture of exclusion. The lack of opportunity for participation may contribute to inequities that extend into students’ professional lives after college.

Available from: ASEE Archive

Foor, C. E., S. E. Walden, D. A. Trytten and R. L. Shehab (2013). “You choose between TEAM A, good grades, and a girlfriend – you get to choose two!” – How a culture of exclusion is constructed and maintained in an engineering design competition team. Proceedings of 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA, American Society for Engineering Education.

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