June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1189.1 - 26.1189.24
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
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