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No Lab? No Shop? No Problem: Intentional Design of a First-year Engineering Learning Center with Enlightening Outcomes

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 6: Hands-on Projects and Spatial Skills

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

24

Page Numbers

26.1189.1 - 26.1189.24

DOI

10.18260/p.24526

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24526

Download Count

103

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Paper Authors

biography

Jennifer Ocif Love Northeastern University

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Jennifer Love, Susan Freeman, Beverly Kris Jaeger-Helton, and Richard Whalen are members of Northeastern University's Gateway Team, a selected group of faculty expressly devoted to the First-Year Engineering Program. The focus of this team is to provide a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience in engineering that endorses the student-centered and professionally-oriented mission of Northeastern University.

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biography

Susan F Freeman Northeastern University

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Susan Freeman, is a member of Northeastern University’s Gateway Team, a group of teaching faculty expressly devoted to the first-year Engineering Program at Northeastern University. The focus of this team is on providing a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience that endorses the student-centered, professional and practice-oriented mission of Northeastern University.

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Kris Jaeger-Helton Northeastern University

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Beverly Kris Jaeger, PhD is on the full-time faculty in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University teaching Simulation Modeling and Analysis, Facilities Planning, and Human-Machine Systems. She has also been an active member of Northeastern’s Gateway Team, a select group of teaching faculty expressly devoted to the first-year Engineering Program at NU. She also serves as a Technical Faculty Advisor for Senior Capstone Design and graduate-level Challenge Projects in Northeastern’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. Dr. Jaeger has been the recipient of numerous awards in engineering education for both teaching and mentoring and has been involved in several engineering educational research initiatives through ASEE and beyond.

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Richard Whalen Northeastern University

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Dr. Richard Whalen is a Teaching Professor at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and a core member of the Engineering Gateway Team. The focus of this team is on providing a reliable, wide-ranging, and constructive educational experience that endorses the student-centered and professionally-oriented mission of the University. He also teaches specialty courses in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern and has published and presented papers on approaches and techniques in engineering education. He has won multiple Outstanding Teaching Awards at Northeastern and numerous Best Paper and Best Presentation Awards with fellow Gateway coauthors at ASEE.

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Abstract

No Lab? No Shop? No Problem: Intentional Design of a Mini MakerSpace with Macro Outcomes for a First-Year Engineering ProgramAbstractIn Fall 2013, the First Year Engineering Program at a medium-sized private university opened anew 1600 ft2 Learning Center that was designed to provide first-year engineering students with:(1) a collaborative teaching and learning space that fosters communication, teamwork, appliedactive learning, and self-directed learning, (2) a dedicated workshop setting with accessible handtools to facilitate their hands-on design projects, (3) a central office and meeting location inwhich to engage with their first-year instructors for office hours, extra help and advising, and (4)an academic resource and community center including a bank of computers and 3D printers tosupport their first-year engineering courses. In order to track students’ activities in the newEngineering Learning Center and their perceptions of the Center’s effectiveness with respect totheir engineering coursework, qualitative and quantitative data regarding the Center’s firstacademic year of operation were collected from the students who were currently enrolled in atleast one first-year engineering course. These measures included online surveys, observations byfaculty and recorded headcount data of students using the Center.Results indicate that over 80% of the students who visited the Learning Center at least onceduring the Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 semesters believed that the Center and its resources were“important” or “essential” to their academic success in their first year engineering course(s). Inaddition, as seen in Figure 1, the majority of students’ activities in the Learning Center thatsupported their engineering coursework included working on team design projects, using thenetwork computers, attending a special first-year class, using the 3D printers, using hand tools tobuild a project, using the space to meet with classmates, and getting help from teaching assistantsand faculty members. Qualitative analyses revealed that students generally valued the resourcesin the Learning Center but remarked – not surprisingly – that the Center’s actual operationalspace, which is only 700 ft2 of the total 1600 ft2, was too small to handle the high usage demandduring certain weeks of the semester when various design projects were due across multiplecourse sections. One of the primary outcomes of this initiative was learning that the faculty andtheir educational objectives were generally aligned with the impressions and needs of thestudents. At the same time, there were some areas of opportunity where this alignment could beimproved and pre-empted by defining the space to the students with clarity and intention.The lessons learned from this initiative indicate that our College of Engineering’s EngineeringLearning Center is being used as intended, and while it is small for the given population of over600 first-year students, the original design elements and planning efforts have paid off. Theresearch demonstrates that even with limited resources and space, one can create a centralizedarea designed to help students succeed in their first year of engineering. The purpose of thispaper is to guide others who might be thinking about building a first-year engineering learningcenter or questioning the value of creating a seemingly too-small space for their students due tolimited resources. The paper will outline the adjustments made and lessons learned that can beincorporated into the planning process of other educators and administrators who may be lookingto provide a modest MakerSpace and centralized area for undergraduate engineering programsand perhaps even for a high school, museum, or informal engineering education program.Figure 1. Activities undertaken in the Engineering Learning Center in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. Usage profilesstrongly reflect the courses with the highest enrollment each semester, design or programming.

Love, J. O., & Freeman, S. F., & Jaeger-Helton, K., & Whalen, R. (2015, June), No Lab? No Shop? No Problem: Intentional Design of a First-year Engineering Learning Center with Enlightening Outcomes Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24526

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