University Maker Spaces: Discovery, Optimization and Measurement of Impacts

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Morocz, Ricardo
Levy, Bryan D.
Forest, Craig R.
Nagel, Robert L.
Newstetter, Wendy C.
Talley, Kimberly G.
Linsey, Julie S.
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It is essential that modern engineers not only master engineering science and analysis, but they must also learn to drive the next generation of design, creation, and innovation. In parallel to the success of community maker spaces outside of academic settings, many universities are moving beyond traditional machine shops and building multi-disciplinary maker space design centers. This project seeks to understand and use these new environments to achieve elusive aims in engineering education such as improving at-risk student retention, fostering diverse learning environments, and promoting multi-disciplinary teams. We will also investigate the potential of maker spaces to positively influence females and minorities and thereby broaden participation in engineering. Impact will be measured through engineering design self-efficacy; retention in the engineering major; and idea generation ability. Impacts will be measured at two levels. The first level of the project will use a randomly assigned experimental design to assess the impact of early maker space engagement on females and minorities through longitudinal measurements. In the second level, we compare segment snapshots and longitudinal measurements between extensive maker space users and those with minimal exposure. We will also identify best-practice approaches and guidelines for designing maker spaces, through discussions and interviews with leaders of maker spaces from educational institution around the country.
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