Catalysts and barriers faced by native American engineering undergraduate students in Arizona

Fernanda Cruz Rios, Hariharan Naganathan, Linda Tello, Stephanie Adams, Alison Cook-Davis, Mounir El Asmar, David Grau, Kristen Parrish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Engineering schools have been unable to recruit and retain Native American students at the same rate as other students. Consequently, the Native American representation in engineering has been declining over the years in Arizona, even though the state ranks third in the number of degrees earned in the US by Native Americans. To understand the barriers and catalysts faced by Native American students in engineering, the authors interviewed 29 undergraduate Native American students from various engineering majors at three Arizona universities. The results were compared to factors identified by the Millennium Falcon Persistence Model. Family support and institutional support were mentioned by the students as catalysts to success in higher education, whereas themes related to tribal community support were brought up as barriers. Specifically, the students expressed concerns with the perceived lack of engineering jobs on the reservations and the negative environmental impact of the engineering industry. The authors discussed the implications of such findings to engineering schools and the role of the university in supporting Native American students' desire to give back to their communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0000033
JournalJournal of Civil Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Strategy and Management


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