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A Learner- and Equity-Centered Approach to Maker Spaces

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Maker Spaces in Design Education

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Carolyn Keller University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Carolyn Keller is the Director of Academic Assessment at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She is also an associate professor in sociology. Dr. Keller works regularly consults and collaborates with faculty in the engineering programs about assessment and continuous improvement.

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Jodi F. Prosise University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Jodi Prosise is Chair of Engineering and Physics and an Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. She earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at University of Minnesota and her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. She teaches courses in both Industrial and Mechanical Engineering at SAU, focusing in Engineering Graphics, Manufacturing, the Engineering Sciences, and Design. She was recently the PI of an NSF S-STEM grant to recruit rural students from Iowa and Illinois into STEM. Dr. Prosise mentors the collegiate chapter of SWE and organizes many outreach events encourage girls to go into STEM. She leads a study-abroad trip for engineering students to Brazil every-other-year, where students design, build, and implement assistive technologies for people with disabilities. Her research focus is to develop affordable upper limb prosthetics.

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Philip J. Parker P.E. University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Philip Parker, Ph.D., P.E., is Associate Dean for New Initiatives at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He is co-author of the textbook "Introduction to Infrastructure" published in 2012 by Wiley.

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The growth of makerspaces is a trend that has been decades in the making. Engineers are most effective when, in addition to technical knowledge in their field, they have enhanced knowledge of the capabilities of processes such as milling, welding, and 3D printing. Makerspaces enhance engineering education by encouraging creativity and hands-on fabrication skills in students. The benefits of providing high-impact opportunities are evident to prospective students and the employers that will one day hire them. At our institution, we have a unique opportunity to expand on previous research on makerspaces as we design a new building which will include a 20,000 square foot Innovation Center.

While the benefits of makerspaces are well-documented, increasingly so are the potential shortcomings (Morocz, Levy et al. 2015; Pines, Sullivan, and Nogules 2015). It is critical to design welcoming and inclusive spaces that support all types of learners. We addressed this challenge by conducting a needs and opportunities assessment of our currently available fabrication areas. Data were collected through interviewing faculty, staff, and students; surveying student attitudes and satisfaction with existing facilities; and tracking student use. Data were used to inform an assessment plan for the future Innovation Center.

This proactive framework includes the voices and experiences of students from across the institution including those of diverse backgrounds and disciplines. We’ve found that the process has allowed us to improve our understanding of the role of making in the future of our university and how regular feedback and collaboration with constituent groups helps us to create a more learner-friendly and equitable space. Furthermore, this effort to collect and analyze data in preparation for a new makerspace has been beneficial as we develop curricular and co-curricular experiences for our students that are designed to build on our strengths and provide new areas of success.

Keller, C., & Prosise, J. F., & Parker, P. J. (2020, June), A Learner- and Equity-Centered Approach to Maker Spaces Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34010

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