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  • Writer's pictureMrsAeroLec

Join me @SEFI webinar - The experience of neurodiverse engineering students: support for success


This spring the SEFI is launching a new monthly series of SEFI@work webinars on “Caring for the Future: Empathy in Engineering Education”. This is a Global initiative aiming to create a community of educators and researchers who are passionate about educating the next generation of engineers. Engineers, who are globally aware professionals and who have the capacity to broaden their concerns and empathise with others in an increasingly divided and unstable world. In their first webinar, Nicki Sochacka will speak about her work: "Reflections on a decade of studying and teaching empathy in STEM education” which will be on Wednesday 22 February at 15:30 EST/21:30 CET – Zoomlink

The experience of neurodiverse engineering students: support for success

I am honored to be invited to speak at the second webinar organized by the SEFI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SIG together with the SEFI Engineering Skills SIG on "The experience of neurodiverse engineering students: support for success". This webinar will be held during Neurodiversity Celebration week (13-19 March 2023) on Wednesday 15 March 2023 14:00-15:00 CET/08:00 - 09:00 EST.

In this one hour session, I will be one of three speakers discussing the challenges of neurodiverse engineering students. In 15 minute presentations, we will each share our perspective and solutions in our talks which are followed by a 15-minute panel discussion:

  1. Neurodiversity - the inclusiveness vs. labeling paradox by Dr. Gillian Saunders-Smits (Delft University of Technology, NL)

  2. Exploring the experience of neurodivergent engineers in the workplace by Dr. Vanda Papafilippou; Miss Lucy Downes (University of West England Bristol, UK)

  3. Work-in-Progress: Inclusive Mentoring Strategies for Neurodivergent Undergraduate Researchers in STEM by Mariah Arral (Carnegie Mellon University, US)


In recent years the number of engineering students with non-visible disabilities (NVDs) such as ADHD and ASD have increased. These students face many barriers, for example: bias around decisions regarding accommodations; dependence of grades on suitability of reasonable adjustments stigma over disclosure of disability; and a disability employment, retention and progression gap. There is also insufficient academic training and understanding of how disabilities affect learning and academic performance, and staff attitudes toward disability support have been shown to have a direct impact on academic success.

Shows brightly colored people each with a different brain
Neurodiversity: Not all brains work the same and that is perfectly fine. Society can benefit from the strengths and accommodate the weaknesses [Image:MissLunaRose12, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

These issues are compounded by the learning experience within HE, which varies substantially from that within schools in which learning is often highly structured. At the same time there is shift in pedagogical approaches used within engineering education and a higher degree of unstructured time and informal instruction. In comparison, existing accommodations developed for traditional learning environments and it is unclear whether reasonable adjustments allow students to develop the professional skills (e.g., flexibility, executive functioning) increasingly required by engineering employers. This alongside, the non-academic factors which may affect disabled students, may result in lower levels of self-efficacy and reduced outcomes, particularly with respect to employability, thus reducing the potential for the profession to benefit from their abilities which include strong divergent thinking, creativity, innovation and risk-taking.

In this session, we will discuss the unique perspectives that neurodiverse students can bring to engineering, how they experience engineering education, and ways in which we can support them.

Why me?

Those of you who know me well, know that I am an outspoken advocate on the topic of neurodiversity in engineering education. For those of you who want to know more the video below may be of interest.


Lachlan Brows
Lachlan Brows
Aug 28, 2023

Hi. You have created a cool and very visual video, I really liked it and I realized that I also lack such a video for my psychological classes at school. I would like to ask you which video editor for mac or windows did you use to create this video?

Sep 19, 2023
Replying to

hi Lachlan, Sorry for the late reply. I was a bit busy with starting the new term. Thank you so much for teh compliment. The cartoon video has been made using Vyond software and the overall editing has been done using Camtasia in which I do most of my editing after recording using my iPhone and a Lapel mike in front of green screen.

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