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Community College Innovation Centers – Lessons Learned from Works in Progress

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Research, Innovation and Careers

Tagged Division

Two-Year College

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Paper Authors


Carl Whitesel South Mountain Community College

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Carl Whitesel has spent his career teaching Engineering Technology, and has taught in the community college setting since 2007. He is the Engineering Program Coordinator for South Mountain Community College. His teaching focus is primarily on circuit analysis, electronics, and introductory engineering courses. He earned his Ph.D. in Engineering Education Curriculum and Instruction, from Arizona State University in 2014. His primary research interests are Maker spaces, conceptual knowledge, concept inventories and self-efficacy.

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Nicholas Langhoff Skyline College

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Nicholas Langhoff is an associate professor of engineering and computer science at Skyline College in San Bruno, California. He received his M.S. degree from San Francisco State University in embedded electrical engineering and computer systems. His educational research interests include technology-enhanced instruction, online education, metacognitive teaching and learning strategies, reading apprenticeship in STEM, and the development of novel instructional equipment and curricula for enhancing academic success in science and engineering.

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Marco Wehrfritz Skyline Community College

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Marco received his B.S. and M.S. in Physics from the University of Bonn in 2004 and 2009, respectively, and worked from 2009 to 2015 as a research associate and consultant of nuclear safety for the German independent expert and consulting organization (GRS) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). In 2016 he joined the Skyline Community College, where he teaches Physics as an adjunct faculty and implemented and is running the Fabrication Lab as its main lab technician.

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Some argue that the concept of a makerspace has been around since the late 1800s, starting out in public libraries, with the most recent modern, public versions originating around the year 2000. In 2009, MIT formed the Fab Foundation as a way to formalize Fab Labs and Innovation Centers, regarding equipment and capabilities of those lab spaces. Since then, makerspaces, fab labs, innovation centers, and engineering labs have grown exponentially, primarily within colleges and universities, as well as at public libraries, and private companies open to the public. It is only recently that community colleges have started to jump into the creation and use of these types of spaces.

Compared to private companies, as well as 4-year colleges and universities, community colleges are often extremely limited in the technology and capabilities they can offer users of these lab spaces. In many instances, community college innovation centers can barely be considered a makerspace due to limitations of equipment and scope of capabilities, let alone staffing within an environment that focuses on a near one hundred percent off-campus student body. This paper is intended to present a brief history of this up and coming technological space within community colleges, as well as lessons learned and suggestions from those community colleges that have jumped into this innovative, yet expensive endeavor, while on an often extremely limited budget.

Whitesel, C., & Langhoff, N., & Wehrfritz, M. (2019, June), Community College Innovation Centers – Lessons Learned from Works in Progress Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32520

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