Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering


College of Engineering


Andrew Robert Danowitz

Advisor Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


The CAR (confront, address, replace) Strategy is an antiracist pedagogy aiming to drive out exclusionary terminology in engineering education.

“Master-slave” terminology is still commonplace in engineering education and industry. However, questions have been raised about the negative impacts of such language. Usage of exclusionary terminology such as “master-slave” in academia can make students—especially those who identify as women and/or Black/African-American—feel uncomfortable, potentially evoking Stereotype Threat (Danowitz, 2020) and/or Curriculum Trauma (Buul, 2020). Indeed, prior research shows that students from a number of backgrounds find non-inclusive terminologies such as “master-slave” to be a major problem (Danowitz, 2020). Currently, women-identifying and gender nonbinary students are underrepresented in the engineering industry (ASEE, 2020) while Black/African-American students are underrepresented in the entire higher education system, including engineering fields (NSF, 2019).

The CAR Strategy, introduced here, stands for: 1) confront; 2) address; 3) replace and aims to provide a framework for driving out iniquitous terminologies in engineering education such as “master-slave.” The first step is to confront the historical significance of the terminology in question. The second step is to address the technical inaccuracies of the legacy terminology. Lastly, replace the problematic terminology with an optional but recommended replacement. This thesis reports on student perceptions and the effectiveness of The CAR Strategy piloted as a teaching framework in the computer engineering department of Cal Poly. Of 64 students surveyed: 70% either agree or strongly agree that The CAR Strategy is an effective framework for driving out exclusionary terminologies.

Amman Asfaw first presented certain portions of this thesis at the virtual 2021 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition. The original publication’s copyright is held by ASEE (Asfaw, 2021); secondary authors included Storm Randolph, Victoria Siaumau, Yumi Aguilar, Emily Flores, Dr. Jane Lehr, and Dr. Andrew Danowitz.