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Making People and Projects: Implications for Designing Making-Based Learning Experiences

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 1d

Tagged Topic

Pacific Southwest Section

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Paper Authors


Micah Lande Arizona State University

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering programs and Tooker Professor 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.

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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?,” and is a Co-PI on the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments grant “Additive Innovation: An Educational Ecosystem of Making and Risk Taking.” He was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014, and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama in 2017.

Dr. Jordan 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 founded and led teams to two collegiate Rube Goldberg Machine Contest national championships, and has appeared on many TV shows (including Modern Marvels on The History Channel and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC) and a movie with his chain reaction machines. He serves on the Board of the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa, AZ, 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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Steven Weiner Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Steven Weiner is a PhD student in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. He is interested in researching innovative learning frameworks at the intersection of formal and informal STEM education, specifically focusing on the impact of long-term, project-based programs on middle and high school students at community makerspaces and science centers. Before starting his doctoral studies, Mr. Weiner served as the founding Program Director for CREATE at Arizona Science Center, a hybrid educational makerspace/ community learning center. He has previous experience as a physics and math instructor at the middle school and high school levels.

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The objective of this paper is to propose guidelines for designing open-ended, hands-on making educational experiences within the context of undergraduate engineering coursework. The aim is to expand understanding of what making-based learning (MBL) in the context of undergraduate engineering design education might be, especially for current Millennial students. This work seeks to illuminate the engineering classroom experiences of making in ways beyond just tools and places – including those who engage in authentic engineering practice through imagination and making, design and analysis, and also tinkering, hacking and tweaking. We seek to apply our previous work understanding Adult Maker and Young Maker educational pathways in a way useful to those responsible for engineering studios, prototyping labs, and academic maker spaces. We build on our prior qualitative research work and understanding of Makers’ educational pathways and experiences to distill a working framework for designing Making experiences for student learners and design principles for framing making-based learning projects.

Hands-on building experiences are underfunded in secondary schools and engineering science is a more prevalent approach to teaching college students than human-centered design. While opportunities exist to nurture one’s interest in making and tinkering are growing, means to truly foster creativity in the classroom is limited. Coupled with calls for competitiveness, a search to find new learning models to create innovators in the classroom is needed. With ubiquity of information and promises of technology, such potential can be manifested in the Maker Community, through both technology but also open-source collaborative efforts that include a breadth of fields.

The research questions guiding this study are RQ1: “How might engineering students learn and apply making in undergraduate engineering?” and RQ2: “What are the attributes of making in the engineering classroom?” With some understanding of making in the wild, as presented at Maker Faires and Adult Makers and Young Makers sharing their work, we apply those learnings to inform the engineering education enterprise.

Engineers participate in the Maker movement. Some Makers do not pursue formal engineering education but both the engineering field and their own vocational advancement could readily benefit. With our ongoing research into understanding Adult Maker and Young Maker educational pathways, we seek to understand making and how making activities and work are inclusive or exclusive of what we expect from engineers and engineering students. From the Engineer of 2020, we highlight practical ingenuity, creativity and lifelong learning for likely opportunities to leverage the Maker experience in the engineering classroom.

With an ultimate goal of facilitating more effective teaching and learning of making through the experience of learning engineering and design in the undergraduate engineering classroom, we build on a list of qualities that have emerged from our previous making-related work and place in the context of undergraduate engineering education. We share these learning attributes below with examples from Making and engineering, and how it may become reflected in the engineering classroom in the future. This makes for quite an opportunity to further bolster relevance and context for the instructor and the student learner.

Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S., & Weiner, S. (2017, April), Making People and Projects: Implications for Designing Making-Based Learning Experiences Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona.

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: © 2017 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