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Maker Spaces for the Multitudes - Strategies to Expand Access and Use of a College Maker Space

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Cooperative and Experiential Education Division Technical Session 4 - Innovating Engineering Education through Industry and Community Partnerships, Maker Spaces, Competitions, Research Initiatives, and Experiential Education

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Cooperative and Experiential Education

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Kyle Dukart University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Dr. Dukart graduated with his B.A. in English and Honors from the University of North Dakota in 1997, followed by an M.A. in English in 1999 and a B.A. in Computer Science in 2002. He recently received (2016) his Ed.D. emphasizing Higher Education from the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development from the University of Minnesota.

He has worked as an instructor and academic advisor at the University of North Dakota, the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Minnesota. He currently is the Administrative Director for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Minnesota, where he has taken a keen interest in the role of student groups in engineering education and the expansion and use of makerspaces by students. Part of his administrative time is dedicated to furthering the mission of two makerspaces at the University of Minnesota, the Exceed Lab situated in ECE and the Anderson Student Innovation Labs, an over 10,000 square foot facility serving the College of Science and Engineering.

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David John Orser University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Orcid 16x16

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David Orser teaches and develops undergraduate education curriculum with a focus on laboratory courses for the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. His courses leverage project-based learning, experiential learning, and self-paced activities.

David has over ten years of industry experience specializing in mixed-signal RF integrated circuit design, power systems, and power electronics.

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Ben Guengerich University of Minnesota - Anderson Student Innovation Labs

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Ben Guengerich is the Manager of the Anderson Student Innovation Labs at the University of Minnesota. The labs provide engineering students open access to prototyping equipment and give them the freedom to work on projects aligned with their personal and academic interests. Ben has degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Case Western Reserve University and started his career at CWRU's think[box] makerspace. Outside of his work in the Anderson Labs, Ben mentors students on a local high school robotics team and likes working on projects that blend music and engineering, like a piano that sends real time musical instructions to a choir, and giant musical Tesla Coils.

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This evidence-based practice paper reports the effectiveness of various strategies to support growth in the use of campus makerspaces both in numbers of students and the diversity of background and major. Makerspaces have increasingly become part of the landscape of colleges and universities over the past decade, especially in engineering colleges where experiential learning and design experiences are viewed as essential building blocks in educating new engineers. Although it is exciting to have these new spaces filled with prototyping tools, professional support, and sets of student super-users, it is imperative that college makerspaces be accessible, available, and intriguing to the breadth of students enrolled if we want these particular resources to positively impact more than a fraction of the student body. Considering the resource-intensive nature of such spaces, their continued existence depends on engagement with a critical mass of students participating in meaningful and value-adding experiential learning activities.

Toward that end, we continue to analyze usage over three years at a makerspace situated in a large public research university in the upper midwest. Students access the makerspace via courses held in the space, through open visits, and by registering for and attending short courses taught there. Over three years, the makerspace has developed three main strategies for driving a diverse and larger set of students from its engineering, math, and physical science majors into the space to serve as a platform for design practice, cross-disciplinary exploration, and community building. The first is the development of faculty-led project-based courses aimed at first-year students with the goal of introducing students to design and prototyping inside the makerspace. The second is the development of staff and student-led microcourses that teach specific skills or share information in a short period of time and become part of the training transcript for each student. The third is to leverage web and social media to create excitement around student design projects and experiential learning in the makerspace.

We are still collecting results, primarily through mandatory lab check-in data, regular course enrollment, and microcourse enrollment. This data will be cross-referenced to demographic data such as major, gender identity, ethnicity, and student year to understand usage changes over three years. Since there are data points for the varied ways to access the makerspace, we will be able to draw conclusions regarding the effectiveness of the three strategies. We will share our lessons learned for those working to enhance the effectiveness and impact of their college makerspaces.

Dukart, K., & Orser, D. J., & Guengerich, B. (2020, June), Maker Spaces for the Multitudes - Strategies to Expand Access and Use of a College Maker Space Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34938

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