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A Classification System for Higher Education Makerspaces

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Making, Hacking, and Extracurricular Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Vincent Wilczynski Yale University

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Vincent Wilczynski is the Deputy Dean of the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science and the James S. Tyler Director of the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation & Design. As the Deputy Dean, he helps plan and implement all academic initiatives at the School. In addition, he manages the School's teaching and research resources and facilities. As the James S. Tyler Director of the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design he leads the School’s efforts to promote collaboration, creativity, design and manufacturing activities at Yale’s academic makerspace. His professional interests in Mechanical Engineering are in the areas of data acquisition/analysis and mechanical design. He is the Co-Chair of the Executive Advisory Board of the FIRST Foundation and is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. Previously, he was the Dean of Engineering at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and has had fellowships at the MIT Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, the Harvard School of Public Health and with the American Council on Education. He has also served as the Vice President of Public Awareness for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was the 2001 Baccalaureate College Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation, the only national award that recognizes outstanding college teaching.

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A Classification System for Higher Education Makerspaces


Makerspaces exist in a variety of forms on college campuses. The terms “academic makerspaces” and “higher education makerspaces” are used interchangeably to distinguish these spaces and their users from those that exist in industry, K-12 schools, and within communities as non-profit and for-profit entities. Over the last decade, many forms of higher education makerspaces were established for a variety of purposes. It is proposed that standardized nomenclature be developed to structure discussions about and comparisons between higher education makerspaces. This paper proposes a classification system for higher education makerspaces and applies the proposed classifications to existing spaces. The classification system indicates the purpose of the space and includes indices for the space’s accessibility, population, size, and staffing. While noting that interpretation differences can result from system-wide generalizations, the concepts of categories and classes are routinely applied in nearly all fields to assimilate data and make comparisons. The higher education makerspace community is now large enough to benefit from an enterprise-wide classification system. It is suggested that such a classification system will be helpful to improve current spaces and guide the development of future spaces.

Wilczynski, V. (2017, June), A Classification System for Higher Education Makerspaces Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27448

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