New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
In today’s global market, advances in manufacturing processes and technology in general have transformed innovation and allow industries to test new ideas for products in a very short time and for costs much lower than ever before. The traditional process of developing and testing new products is changing drastically and engineering graduates entering the workforce will benefit by possessing skills in creativity and innovation. To address this need, universities across the country have recognized the need and have invested resources to develop maker spaces and provide engineering undergraduates with opportunities for experiential and project-based learning to promote creativity and innovative skills. Maker spaces vary in size, resources, programs and targeted population and they represent a significant development in engineering education. In this large public institution, the college of engineering has offered a 20,000 square-foot maker space solely dedicated to engineering undergraduates since 2012. The facility offers students access to: 1) fabrication equipment such as 3D Printers, CNC and manual lathes and mills, and electronic circuit board fabrication; 2) microcontrollers and sensors; 3) collaborative spaces which include studio, conference and meeting rooms; 4) wide range of software tools to support engineering analysis, and 5) experienced professional staff able to guide student’s use of this equipment and tools. Students utilize facility resources for curricular activities such as capstone design projects and extra-curricular programs such as design competitions. Since 2012, the number of students requesting access to the facility has increased significantly with more than 1500 students registered for 2015 fall. To provide students with specific skills and knowledge, often related to the capacities of the maker space, the college launched a series of pop up classes in fall 2015 with the goal to provide students training for effective use of facility resources. The pop up class program has been very successful with more than 750 students registered for 2015 fall semester. This study will assess how utilization of the facility influences student development. While anecdotal evidence suggests facility resources empower participants to pursue more innovative designs, this study is the first systematic assessment of student self-reported confidence and motivation to pursue certain tasks such as engineering design. Findings will contribute to the growing body of knowledge about maker spaces and their influences on engineering education.
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