Asee peer logo

Making the Makers: Building Hands-on Skills to Help Humanity Through First-Year Design

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Design in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Pamela L. Dickrell University of Florida

visit author page

Dr. Pamela Dickrell is the Associate Director of the Institute for Excellence in Engineering Education, in the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Her role as Associate Director of the Institute focuses on effective teaching methods and hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate student engagement and retention. Dr. Dickrell received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, specializing in Tribology. Her research areas include first-year design, makerspace education, hands-on learning, diverse student engagement & retention.

visit author page


Lilianny Virguez University of Florida

visit author page

Lilianny Virguez is a Lecturer at the Institute for Excellence in Engineering Education at University of Florida. She holds a Masters' degree in Management Systems Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. She has work experience in engineering and has taught engineering courses at the first-year level. Her research interests include motivation to succeed in engineering with a focus on first-year students.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Engineering Design & Society is a hands-on first-year course teaching human-centered design to inspire engineering students to become innovators to help humanity. Students are actively engaged in practicing the human-centered design and prototyping process while learning makerspace and hands-on skills (solid modeling, 3D printing, programming, microelectronics, sensors, actuators, basic hand & power tools). Students then practice and incorporate these skills into the design process in a multidisciplinary team to research, design, build, document, and present on their functional prototype of a solution to help humanity to meet specific desired needs. The course is centered on experiential learning and innovation practice for all engineering freshmen through hands-on education in a classroom structured as a makerspace. Students collaborate at worktables in teams, each team with their own tools, with a dedicated class suite of 3D printers and other maker tools to help students not only design but also physically build and program functional prototypes. The goals and benefits of the Engineering Design & Society course are to: 1) Promote a culture of making in first-year students by introducing solid modeling, programming, sensors, data acquisition, 3D printing, and other maker tools; 2) Help students learn techniques to solve open-ended engineering challenges; 3) Build student self-confidence in their individual making skills (especially for female and minority engineering students) to increase student hands-on participation in engineering societies, innovation challenges, and internships, and 4) Build teamwork and cooperative learning skills through participation in multidisciplinary teams. This work outlines the makerspace structure of the physical environment, and hands-on nature of the curriculum of this first-year course. Impact on students is examined both quantitative and qualitatively through student self-reported surveys from the pilot sections of the course. Survey data examines student perceptions on the how structure and content of the course impact student identity as makers and their self-confidence in making skills. Student self-reported data on gender, ethnic background, major, prior programming experience, and prior building experience are included to examine maker-centered impact across a diverse background of first-year engineering students.

Dickrell, P. L., & Virguez, L. (2019, June), Making the Makers: Building Hands-on Skills to Help Humanity Through First-Year Design Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33080

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: © 2019 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