Learning spaces, the practices in which people engage, and the representations they use are ideological. Ideologies are coherent constellations of values, beliefs, and practices that impose order on how disciplines like engineering operate. Historically, engineering spaces have been dominated by a relatively technocratic, rationalistic, and exclusionary ideology, but more recent attention to asset-based approaches to engineering education offers transformative promise. Asset-based ideologies can reshape images of legitimized engineering practice, recasting engineering education to disrupt dominant exclusionary ideologies. This paper describes an assets-based learning space, SETC, that recaptures the imagination of engineering for technological and social change. Drawing from extensive ethnographic observational data, interviews, and artifacts produced in SETC, we describe aspects of this learning space, including the use of representations and practices that specifically support expansive forms of engineering practiced by youth of color. We also explore how SETC’s commitment to antiracist and liberatory practices, including shifting relationships to technology and engineering design in service of enhancing life, manifests in its transformative mission to design programs and activities for youth that disrupt dominant ideologies. SETC centers making and tinkering as legitimate expressions of engineering, and we present a case of a youth participant to illustrate the rich engineering learning that the space makes possible. The case features Naeem engineering a gear-based project that expresses his interpretation of Black Lives Matter. Situated in his long history in the learning space, we explore how youth’s interactions with conventionalized representations—which serve to maintain dominant ideologies—are enhanced by asset-based commitments. This paper contributes specific recommendations for designing spaces for new ideologies, making engineering education more equitable for youth of color while also expanding notions of what engineering is and the forms that it can take.



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