Asee peer logo

Leadership Characteristics within the Making Community

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Innovation in Engineering Leadership Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1057.1 - 26.1057.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

James Logan Oplinger Arizona State University


Micah Lande Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

visit author page

Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Polytechnic School in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches human-centered engineering design and innovation courses in the engineering and manufacturing engineering programs. 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 received his B.S in Engineering (Product Design), M.A. in Education (Learning, Design and Technology) and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Design Thinking) from Stanford University. Dr. Lande is the PI on the NSF-funded project “Should Makers Be the Engineers of the Future” and a co-PI on the NSF-funded project “Might Young Makers Be the Engineers of the Future?”

visit author page


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

visit author page

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.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Making Leaders; A Study of Leadership within the Making CommunityLeadership is a key quality for the engineer of the future. Proactiveness, confidence, motivation,communication, coaching (Ahn, 2014) will be important skills for engineers so that they caneffectively lead teams, adjust to change, and synthesize. In National Academy of Engineering’sThe Engineer of 2020 future engineers are expected to be in position to influence “in the makingof public policy and in the administration of government and industry.” The Maker communityoffers a broad spectrum of individuals engaged in informal engineering and tinkering activities.This study explores leadership using a theoretical framework of competing values includingrelating to people, managing processes, leading change, and producing results (Zafft, 2009). Thestudy relied upon artifact elicitation and critical incident interviews with 42 of these Makers atfour Maker Faires. The artifact elicitation interviews, based on photo elicitation (Harper, 2002),were conducted at the Maker Faires in front of the inventions, where the Makers were asked todescribe the invention and the process behind it. Critical incident interviews (Flanagan 1954)were follow-up interviews conducted via Skype to more deeply explore the Makers’ mindsetsand backgrounds. Under a theoretical framework of competing values and through parallelinductive-deductive analysis, emergent themes among our sample of Makers are that theyexpress leadership through: (1) cooperation – they work alongside other Makers for completingprojects as well as acquiring services outside of their expertise; (2) mentorship – they providefeedback for other Makers, local communities, and small groups; (3) large scale mentorship –they provide insight and lessons through online communities such as Instructables, in the form ofliterature, or other widespread methods; (4) entrepreneurship – they show leadership throughstartup projects or businesses.

Oplinger, J. L., & Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2015, June), Leadership Characteristics within the Making Community Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24394

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015