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How Can Maker Skills Fit in with Accreditation Demands for Undergraduate Engineering Programs?

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Student Success II: Self-Regulatory, Metacognitive, and Professional Skills

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Aubrey Wigner Arizona State University

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Aubrey Wigner is a PhD candidate in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at Arizona State University. He has an undergraduate degree in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and a Masters in International Political Economy of Resources, both from the Colorado School of Mines. His research focuses on integrating Makerspaces and Hackerspaces with higher education to enhance learning through hands on interdisciplinary practices. He is also interested in how organizations and individuals engage in technological innovation.

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Micah Lande Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering programs at the Polytechnic School in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches human-centered engineering design thinking, making and design innovation project courses. Dr. Lande researches how technical and non-technical people learn and apply design thinking and making processes to their work.  He is interested in the intersection of designerly epistemic identities and vocational pathways. Dr. Lande 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.

Dr. Lande is the PI on the NSF-funded project Should Makers Be the Engineers of the Future? He is a co-PI on the NSF-funded projects: Might Young Makers Be the Engineers of the Future?, I-Corps for Learning: Leveraging Maker Pathways to Scale Steam + Making Outreach Programs, Instigating a Revolution of Additive Innovation: An Educational Ecosystem of Making and Risk Taking, and Increasing Learning and Efficacy about Emerging Technologies through Transmedia Engagement by the Public in Science-in-Society Activities. He was also a participant in the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning 2015 cohort (Leveraging Maker Pathways to Scale Steam + Making Outreach Programs) and served as senior personnel / instructional team on the 2014 pilot for NSF’s Innovation Corps for Learning (I-Corps-L).

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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?” He has also been part of the teaching team for NSF’s Innovation Corps for Learning, and was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014.

Dr. Jordan also founded and led teams to two collegiate National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest championships, and has 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 has appeared on many TV shows (including Modern Marvels on The History Channel and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC) and a movie with his Rube Goldberg machines, 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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In this paper, the skills Makers are learning are categorized according to their fit with existing and proposed ABET standards. Makers, both young and adult alike, learn a variety of skills to create technically sophisticated artifacts of personal interest. Here we argue that making (open ended, student led project based learning) and the Maker Mindset can provide a useful template for teaching some ABET applicable skills and attitudes. This paper demonstrates that ¾ of makers are learning how to communicate technical details to a wider audience, ½ are learning valuable techniques to foster lifelong learning, ½ are learning how to apply engineering knowledge to solve problems, ½ are learning specific skills applicable to electrical engineering and manufacturing engineering programs, ⅓ are working on multidisciplinary teams, and ⅓ are designing systems with realistic constraints. Each of the above categories is part of ABET’s accreditation process for engineering programs. Making offers a potential lens to highlight those areas which may be lagging in a more traditional engineering education. As part of ABET accreditation criteria, universities are asked to demonstrate continuous improvement. For many this means opening maker spaces and bringing project-based learning pedagogies and hands-on laboratory experiences to their undergraduate engineering programs. There is a tension rooted in ABET accreditation standards (current and proposed) for what is expected to be taught in computing and engineering undergraduate programs, how to assess it, and what is valued about the enterprise of engineering education. With recent proposed changes to ABET student learning outcomes, this work can inform and highlight practices for learning outcomes that are otherwise undervalued (those that will be contracted or combined), as well as present alternative approaches to disciplinary knowledge construction and technical competence.

Wigner, A., & Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2016, June), How Can Maker Skills Fit in with Accreditation Demands for Undergraduate Engineering Programs? Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25468

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