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Welcome to the Maker Movement: Parallel Education Pathways of Adult Makers

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Beyond the Classroom

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1716.1 - 26.1716.18



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Paper Authors


Chrissy Hobson Foster Arizona State University

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Chrissy Foster is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Arizona State University. Her dissertation study explores the approaches to technical innovation within Native American communities.

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Aubrey Wigner Arizona State University

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Aubrey Wigner is a PhD student in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at Arizona State University. He has an undergraduate degree in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and a Masters in International Political Economy of Resources, both from the Colorado School of Mines. His research focuses on integrating Makerspaces and Hackerspaces with higher education to enhance learning through hands on interdisciplinary practices. He is also interested in how organizations and individuals engage in technological innovation.

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Micah Lande Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Polytechnic School in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches human-centered engineering design and innovation courses in the engineering and manufacturing engineering programs. Dr. Lande researches how technical and non-technical people learn and apply a design process 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 Thinking) from Stanford University. Dr. Lande is the PI on the NSF-funded project “Should Makers Be the Engineers of the Future” and a co-PI on the NSF-funded project “Might Young Makers Be the Engineers of the Future?”

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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?” He has also been part of the teaching team for NSF’s Innovation Corps for Learning, and was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014.

Dr. Jordan also founded and led teams to two collegiate National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest championships, and has 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 has appeared on many TV shows (including Modern Marvels on The History Channel and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC) and a movie with his Rube Goldberg machines, 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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Broadening Engineering Pathways; Learning from MakersA more inclusive vision of engineering crossed with Making could build future engineeringcapacity as well as raise awareness to the general public of the work and impact such workoffers. Findings from the Center on the Advancement of Engineering Education’s AcademicPathways Study (Atman et al., 2010), studying undergraduate persistence in engineering andstudents’ pathway by and through engineering studies, found two groups of students withdifferent motivations for engagement. The first seeks financial security, overcoming barriers offoundational math and science courses to continue, aiming for graduation. The secondapproached their studies with an intrinsic psychological motivation, seeking meaning and impactthrough their studies. Our ambition is to change the conversation to highlight the efficacy andpossibilities for this second group. This study examines the community of self-described Makersengaged in informal engineering education and tinkering activities to create technical artifacts.The primary research question is: How do pathways of Makers intersect with engineering?The study relied upon artifact elicitation and critical incident interviews conducted with 42 adultMakers at four flagship Maker Faires. Artifact elicitation interviews, based on the method ofphoto elicitation (Harper, 2002), were gathered from the Makers in front of their artifactshowcase and asked Makers to describe their invention, including how it works and their processfor bringing the idea to fruition. Critical incident technique interviews (Flanagan, 1954) wereconducted as follow-ups via Skype to more deeply explore the Makers’ educational pathways.Under a theoretical framework of constructivist grounded theory and through parallel inductive-deductive analysis, results indicate that Makers come from a variety of different pathways –engineering, science, art, and business – and are generating similar outputs with their Making.Within these parallel pathways, Makers readily pivot to advance their Making goals; they turn toformal and informal engineering to learn technical knowledge and skills and often exit formalengineering to bring their ideas to fruition while remaining active in informal engineeringcommunities. Makers rely upon an ethos of sharing to utilize the multiplicity of pathways andbackgrounds within the community. Within their educational pathways, they serve as knowledgebrokers to the Maker community, learning and sharing new knowledge and skills readily. Theneed to Make trumps formal background, with a mindset that is unafraid to take risk andimplement new ideas. Although we do not equate engineering students, practicing engineers, andMakers completely, the study will identify possible overlaps and stories of pathways within to bepossible for transformational change in the engineering education field. By sharing a diverse setof profiles of Makers and their pathways, this study advances the currently limited knowledge ofthe Maker community and transforms the conversation of who the engineer of the future couldbe by linking “making” with engineering.  

Foster, C. H., & Wigner, A., & Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2015, June), Welcome to the Maker Movement: Parallel Education Pathways of Adult Makers Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25052

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