Asee peer logo

Using A Modularity Analysis to Determine Tool and Student Roles within Maker Spaces

Download Paper |


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

Maker Spaces in Design Education

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Colton Daniel Brehm Texas A&M University

visit author page

Colton Brehm is a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering program at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. His research interests include bio-inspired design of complex human networks and industrial networks with a focus on Eco-Industrial Park design.

visit author page


Julie S. Linsey Georgia Institute of Technology

visit author page

Dr. Julie S. Linsey is an Associate Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technological. Dr. Linsey received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas. Her research area is design cognition including systematic methods and tools for innovative design with a particular focus on concept generation and design-by-analogy. Her research seeks to understand designers’ cognitive processes with the goal of creating better tools and approaches to enhance engineering design. She has authored over 150 technical publications including over forty journal papers, and ten book chapters.

visit author page


Astrid Layton Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Astrid Layton is an assistant professor at Texas A and M University in the Mechanical Engineering department and received her Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. She is interested in bio-inspired system design problems and is currently working at the intersection of ecology and engineering for the design of complex human networks and systems.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Student use of makerspaces can vary greatly, with some students confidently using the space throughout their academic career and others quickly losing interest or never participating. Many of the potential roadblocks are nuanced or unpredictable and can only be discerned when multiple makerspace design parameters are evaluated in reference to each other. This preliminary investigation models the makerspaces as a network of actors (students and tools) connected by individual student-equipment interactions. This representation allows for a modularity analysis to be performed, a tool primarily used by ecologists to study mutualistic networks in nature and investigated here for its potential to understand and design the makerspace from a systems-perspective. The modularity analysis can highlight the different roles, for example what are great introductory or stepping stone tools, that the students and tools play within and their respective contributions to the larger makerspace. The results suggests that the analysis has the potential to support makerspace decision-makers with information such as: which students act as recruiters for and which are not fully using a makerspace (enabling them to potentially be connected), which tools have low usage rates and potentially discourage students from the space versus, and how students navigate the overall space to identify enhancements.

Brehm, C. D., & Linsey, J. S., & Layton, A. (2020, June), Using A Modularity Analysis to Determine Tool and Student Roles within Maker Spaces Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35445

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: © 2020 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