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How Well Can Makerspaces Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Stephanie M. Gillespie University of New Haven

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Stephanie Gillespie is the Associate Dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven. She previously specialized in service learning while teaching at the Arizona State University in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program. Her current teaching and research interests are in developing study skills and identity in first-year engineering students and improving retention rates. She acts as a faculty liaison for the University of New Haven Makerspace and facilitates student and faculty training. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and her BSEE from the University of Miami.

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Onyinyechi Nwadiuto Agu University of New Haven

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Onyinyechi Nwadiuto Agu is a Graduate student at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut. She is studying Data science and is expected to graduate in December 2021. She aspires to further her education and professional career by obtaining her Ph.D in Data science. Her professional interest are in engineering education as well as Machine learning and Natural language processing. In addition to her academic pursuit, Onyinyechi currently occupies the position of Executive Assistant at Data Scientist Alliance and Africa Graduate Students Association at the University of New Haven.

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Erica Maggiore University of New Haven

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Erica Maggiore is currently an undergraduate student at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut studying computer engineering and minoring in mathematics. Erica will be graduating May of 2021. She aspires to obtain her Masters degree and Ph.D. Erica is currently the Vice President and Executive Assistant of the student chapter of the Latin American Student Association, and a Diversity Peer Educator for the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion on her campus. Her research paper was completed while working as one of the two Engineering Education Research Assistants.

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Makerspaces are often integrated into engineering courses for a variety of benefits: increased engineering identity, increased innovation and technical “tinkering” skills, and increased understanding of the engineering design process. The integration of makerspaces into first year engineering courses has shown success with increases in student interest, student technical skill development, and in some cases, student retention. Additionally, makerspaces often develop complementary skillsets in other areas such as entrepreneurship, often serving as a physical space for entrepreneurs to create their initial prototypes in order to test their ideas and collect feedback. However, there is minimal research relating to the specific student outcomes that define an entrepreneurial mindset that are developed by integrating the makerspace into required coursework.

This paper explores the specific skills developed in the makerspace that contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset. A subset of the expanded KEEN student outcomes (eKSOs) were used, which assess curiosity, connections, creating value, communication, collaboration, and character. The outcomes were assessed via a pre/post survey of students enrolled in an Introduction to Engineering course that integrated the makerspace into both class activities and the final project. The assessment included Likert-scale confidence question as well as free-response questions. A small number of students were also virtually interviewed to provide more details on their experience and on their perceived skills development. The results are compared to survey results from a group of student enrolled in an Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship course, which focuses on methodology and concepts of entrepreneurship but does not integrate any aspect of prototyping or making. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis suggests that students involved in the makerspace do experience increased gains in many of the eKSOs, but not all. Additionally, the differences between the results from the Introduction to Engineering students and the Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship students suggest that the integration of the makerspace into coursework may improve students’ outcomes in some areas of an entrepreneurial mindset that are less-often developed by traditional entrepreneurship coursework.

Gillespie, S. M., & Agu, O. N., & Maggiore, E. (2021, July), How Well Can Makerspaces Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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