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Board # 82 : Young Makers Becoming the Engineers of the Future and Implications

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Micah Lande Arizona State University

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering programs and Tooker Professor at the Polytechnic School in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches human-centered engineering design, design thinking, and design innovation project courses. Dr. Lande researches how technical and non-technical people learn and apply a design process to their work.  He is interested in the intersection of designerly epistemic identities and vocational pathways. Dr. Lande is the PI/co-PI on NSF-funded projects focused on engineering doing and making, citizen science and engineering outreach, and “revolutionizing” engineering education. He has also been an instructor and participant in the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning program. He received his B.S in Engineering (Product Design), M.A. in Education (Learning, Design and Technology) and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Design Education) from Stanford University.

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Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus Orcid 16x16

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SHAWN JORDAN, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches context-centered electrical engineering and embedded systems design courses, and studies the use of context in both K-12 and undergraduate engineering design education. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2010) and M.S./B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University. Dr. Jordan is PI on several NSF-funded projects related to design, including an NSF Early CAREER Award entitled “CAREER: Engineering Design Across Navajo Culture, Community, and Society” and “Might Young Makers be the Engineers of the Future?,” and is a Co-PI on the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments grant “Additive Innovation: An Educational Ecosystem of Making and Risk Taking.” He was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014, and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama in 2017.

Dr. Jordan co-developed the STEAM Labs™ program to engage middle and high school students in learning science, technology, engineering, arts, and math concepts through designing and building chain reaction machines. He founded and led teams to two collegiate Rube Goldberg Machine Contest national championships, and has appeared on many TV shows (including Modern Marvels on The History Channel and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC) and a movie with his chain reaction machines. He serves on the Board of the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa, AZ, and worked as a behind-the scenes engineer for season 3 of the PBS engineering design reality TV show Design Squad. He also held the Guinness World Record for the largest number of steps – 125 – in a working Rube Goldberg machine.

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The purpose of this NSF-funded study “Might Young Makers Be the Engineers of the Future?” is to understand Young Makers in K-12 and how their knowledge, skills, and attitudes might prepare them to pursue advanced STEM education and careers. Makers are an emerging community of self-described DIY-enthusiasts, tinkerers and hobbyists. This work seeks to examine and better understand the context of their activities, particularly in informal engineering education and tinkering activities. Makers embolden characteristics from the Engineer of 2020, and in particular practical ingenuity, creativity, and propensity toward lifelong learning; making is of particular interest to the field of engineering and to engineering educators.

Our specific research questions to be answered are: (1) What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do Young Makers possess that could be related to engineering?, and (2) How do pathways of Young Makers intersect with engineering?

This study advances the currently limited knowledge of the Young Maker community by developing theory characterizing Young Makers and their pathways through the lens of formal engineering education. The aim is to establish evidence as to how Makers embody specific attributes of the Engineer of 2020 and discover additional attributes of Young Makers that could define the engineer of the future and effects their pathways to STEM majors and related careers.

The results of this study will transform the conversation of who Young Makers could become, linking Making with engineering in the same way that students who excel in science and math are pointed toward engineering by parents and career counselors. We aim to illuminate pathways for Young Makers to become the engineers of the future. In addition, this study could inform future innovation in formal K-12 STEM pedagogy based on successful attributes of informal engineering education and tinkering activities.

Using qualitative research methods of artifact elicitation and critical incident interviews, we are developing a theory describing Young Makers and their preparation to pursue advanced STEM education and careers. To date, 40 Young Makers and 22 parents have been interviewed at Maker Faire events. We intend to continue interviewing Young Makers at Maker Faire events and through additional channels in the coming year, in addition to continuing transcription and analysis toward our goal of developing a Young Maker theory.

As interest and engagement in Making in K-12 increases, it is also interesting to note that this involvement overlaps with introductory engineering efforts. As this may very provide pathways to STEM majors and careers, it also may force reexaminations of what rudimentary STEM knowledge students may bring with them to university. As part of our ongoing synthesis of research findings, we are also considering what curricular, pedagogical and system-wide implications this may have for the engineering education enterprise.

Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2017, June), Board # 82 : Young Makers Becoming the Engineers of the Future and Implications Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27935

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