Asee peer logo

Women in Engineering: 3D Printing Interests, Habits, and Persistence

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Alexa Tannebaum Duke University


Sophia T. Santillan Duke University

visit author page

Sophia Santillan joined Duke as an assistant professor of the practice in summer 2017. As a STEM educator, she is interested in the effect of emerging technology and research on student learning and classroom practice. After earning her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Duke, Santillan taught at the United States Naval Academy as an assistant professor and at the high school level, where she taught across the four-year math curriculum, including advanced courses. She also designed, proposed, and taught two introductory engineering courses for high school students. She currently leads an interdisciplinary initiative to improve girls' and women's math/STEM identity using a social identity framework and a problem-based learning approach.

visit author page


Rebecca Simmons Duke University

visit author page

Rebecca Simmons is an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. She arrived as a freshman to Duke in 1996 and has never left; she completed both her B.S.E and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Material Sciences. She teaches a variety of design courses and is passionate about helping her students build creative confidence, think outside of the box, and design their life with personal metrics of success. She hosts a podcast called This Engineering Life, the undergraduate series.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Makerspaces are increasingly merging with academics in undergraduate engineering programs. At XXX University, students are introduced to prototyping in makerspaces in their first-year engineering design course. In later engineering coursework, they are required to use makerspace tools. 3D printers are one tool used by students for prototyping and visualizing, and they can also aid in developing spatial visualization skills, especially when students design and print objects they’ve designed using a CAD software tool. Printing can inspire students in extracurricular endeavors, and they are a useful tool to creatively explore new ideas for further development. This research is a first step in exploring how students are using 3D printing both in- and outside of required coursework, along with the barriers felt by students in their use of this tool. The goal is to gain insight into 3D printing habits and motivations of engineering undergraduates. Of particular interest is determining any differences between genders in this area, and, if so, what barriers and motivations exist and differ between gender groups.

There are two parts of this study: an online survey and an interview. Engineering undergraduates are recruited for participation, and questions are designed to gage students’ 3D printing experience, frequency, and habits, including the intended use of printed items. Students are also asked to identify their response to printing failures, along with their use of in-person and online resources for troubleshooting. Student demographics are also recorded. In interviews, participants are asked in detail about each item in their online print history. Survey results are paired with in-person interview responses.

Research results will inform future work in addressing barriers that affect students, including 3D printing training, makerspace recommendations, initiatives to promote inclusion, and changes to already existing outreach events designed to support students in building confidence, interest, and self-efficacy in technical skills.

Tannebaum, A., & Santillan, S. T., & Simmons, R. (2021, July), Women in Engineering: 3D Printing Interests, Habits, and Persistence Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38108

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: © 2021 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