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MAKER: Product Development in One Week – Bucknell Fabrication Workshop (B-FAB)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Make It!

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1118.1 - 26.1118.18



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Paper Authors


Eric A. Kennedy Bucknell University

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Prof. Kennedy is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Bucknell University. His educational interests surround design and fabrication skills, the maker movement, entrepreneurship, and lowering the barrier of entry for students interested to learn fabrication skills.

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Nathan P. Siegel P.E. Bucknell University


David E Cipoletti Bucknell University

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Cipoletti earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Lafayette College in 2006. After graduating, he began his graduate studies at Brown University where he earned an M.S. in applied mathematics and a Ph.D. in engineering in 2011. His major course of study at Brown was solid mechanics and his minor courses of study were materials science and applied mathematics. His dissertation studied deformation mechanisms of magnesium and aluminum alloys during tensile straining at elevated temperatures. Since 2011, Cipoletti has worked as an visiting assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Bucknell University.

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MAKER: Product Development in One Week – XXX Fabrication Workshop (X-FAB) Authors XXX UniversityWithin the past decade or more, engineering educators have discussed the increasedtechnological capacity of incoming students – while noting the diminished skill-set with regardto traditional hands-on, “tinkering” skills. Many students choose engineering because they wantto learn how to design and build the solutions of tomorrow, yet they often do not have dedicatedopportunity to expand this hands-on skill set within the engineering curriculum. Sadly,traditional curricular instruction in engineering is such that students spend the bulk of their firstthree years learning theory, and relatively little time contextualizing that theory and its associatedlimitations when creating physical hardware. From a pedagogical perspective, the student-perceived lack of practical application can lead to disengagement. From a practical perspective,success in engineering is closely tied to experience, and the sooner students can start toaccumulate experience with real hardware, the sooner they will begin to develop the intuitionthat, along with their grounding in engineering theory, will help them to succeed. To this end,we recently launched a one-week, extracurricular fabrication workshop, called X-FAB, in whichrising sophomores and juniors are taught a range of fabrication skills that they ultimately use todevelop their own consumer product inventions by the end of the workshop. X-FAB begins withbasic instruction in computer-aided design (CAD), and then moves quickly through a rangefabrication projects involving woodworking, soldering, composites, 3D printing, and lasercutting. We intentionally focus our instruction on processes and techniques with a low barrier toentry, i.e. those that don’t required years of practice to gain proficiency, to enable students tocomplete relatively high-quality work without extensive training or prior experience. Towardthe end of the workshop we introduce topics related to product development includingopportunity recognition, conceptual design, sourcing materials and hardware, and thecharacteristics of an effective prototype. The workshop concludes with student teams presentingtheir consumer product invention, with prototype, in a public forum. This process enablesstudents to fabricate a solution to an identified problem and then pitch the value of their solutionto an audience. Additionally, providing this experience in parallel with their curricular, technicalinstruction, will help students to gain the intuition and experience that combines knowledge ofpractical, real-world tradeoffs with the technical theory, boosting students’ confidence in theirability to develop and troubleshoot physical hardware based on technical, conceptual design.

Kennedy, E. A., & Siegel, N. P., & Cipoletti, D. E. (2015, June), MAKER: Product Development in One Week – Bucknell Fabrication Workshop (B-FAB) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24455

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