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Engineering a New Reality: Using virtual reality to cultivate inclusive mindsets among engineering faculty

This project seeks to broaden participation in a novel way by seeking to understand, how we might cultivate inclusive cultures in the absence of critical masses of people traditionally underrepresented in engineering. Specifically, this work exposes faculty participants to an Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) experience using a head-mounted HTC Vive platform. The power of IVR is its ability to enable a person to experience unencountered perspectives of certain scenarios in a seemingly real way without the feeling of judgement or exposure. In the simulation, participants embody avatars as they navigate scenarios representative of commonly marginalized experiences of those most impacted by non-inclusive engineering environments. Preliminary findings from this work suggest experiencing firsthand marginalized experiences that ‘inclusion privilege,’, power and implicit bias commonly circumvent can serve as a means of increasing awareness.

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