A Project in the Making

We are developing tools to enable making in courses where it previously wouldn’t be found.
- Robert Weaver, Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology

A Project in the Making

Contributed by Edmond Dougherty. This article originally appeared in KEEN Annual Report, 2019-2020. Reprinted with permission.

For hands-on, minds-on learning, a makerspace offers a lot of opportunities. But how do you shape your culture so faculty are comfortable creating assignments where engineering students do substantive work in the space?

Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) is working on this challenge, partnering with three other KEEN partners to create meaningful opportunities for faculty and staff to leverage makerspaces for entrepreneurially minded learning (EML). 

To support project-based learning, most engineering schools have established one or more student-centered facilities, commonly called makerspaces, that allow students to move their ideas to reality through hands-on experiences. Makerspaces provide students with instruction, supervision, and safe access to a wide variety of making devices that range from traditional shop tools to advanced technologies such as machine learning and virtual reality systems.

Chiradeep Sen

Florida Tech intends to establish EML as part of the fabric of the university maker movement. 

Dr. Chiradeep Sen notes, “In engineering, making is an integral part of learning. In our project, we are asking how we can make student learning in the makerspace more impactful. How can we make EML more formal through the development of makerspace-oriented teaching tools?”

Kimberly Demoret

Florida Tech assistant professor, Dr. Kimberly Demoret, further explains, “Florida Tech faculty surveyed the Network to investigate how schools were using makerspaces. Then they selected ten schools that represented the full spectrum of Network maker activities. We visited these schools to tour facilities, collect best practices, and interview faculty and staff about their makerspace experiences.”

From this data, Florida Tech recruited the University of Denver, Lawrence Technological University, and George Fox University to showcase how teaching tools could be developed and used across very different institutions. Together, these KEEN partners are developing, testing, and evaluating EML-related curricular modules that integrate making assignments.

Robert Weaver

Florida Tech’s Dr. Robert Weaver states, “We are developing tools to enable making in courses where it previously wouldn’t be found – a Fluid Dynamics course, for example, where students create a mini-hydropower generator that they can attach to a water faucet. Also, we are focused on first-year and sophomore experiences to ensure our students are involved in making early in their academic careers.”

The project team ensures transferability and scalability by using the modules in various settings and sharing feedback. This will inform the instructor guides and allow for continuous improvement.

The goal for Florida Tech and its partner schools is to graduate engineering students with extensive practical experience that builds skillset and mindset. Makerspaces are an underutilized resource, and these teaching tools will hopefully inspire others to use and improve on them for the benefit of KEEN engineering graduates.

Florida Tech Makerspace

As the project proceeds, the partners use Engineering Unleashed Cards to share information about making:

University of Denver makerspace

[Workshop] Makerspaces - Enhance the Entrepreneurial Mindset Through Hands-on Projects and Exploration

Learn how the University of Denver has developed a makerspace to foster innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset in its users, including how to enhance engineering curriculum and provide extra-curricular learning opportunities for students.
George Fox University maker hub

Entrepreneurially Minded Making

How do you uniquely use your makerspace to contribute to the KEEN mission? The George Fox University wishes to leverage their Maker Hub personnel to work with faculty toward the goals of creating faculty training experiences, exploring collaboration and best practices with other KEEN schools, developing outreach to students and the greater academic community, and more.
Entrepreneurial Mindset Resources for Makers

CardDeck: Entrepreneurial Mindset Resources for Makers

Jim Brenner of the Florida Institute of Technology has compiled this collection of maker resources that span entrepreneurially minded learning integration, incorporation of making content into classes that are not maker-focused, remote making, and much more!

Meet the Authors

Edmond Dougherty

Edmond Dougherty, Retired Professor of Practice and Director Engineering Entrepreneurship, Villanova University

Edmond has many years of experience in the design, development, and management of complex electronic and software systems. He was part of a team that helped develop the Emmy and Academy Award winning Skycam, an aerial robotic control camera system. He also developed an aerial camera system called Wavecam that is now owned by Skycam. He has 13 US patents. He was awarded the IEEE Member Award for the Philadelphia area, and the Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence (ICE) Award at Villanova University.
Chiradeep Sen

Chiradeep Sen, Associate Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

over thirteen years of industry experience in design, manufacturing, and design automation in heavy engineering, automobiles, tools and die, and consumer products. His research interests are design theory and methodology, formal representations and reasoning in design, function-based design, and design and manufacturing automation. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, General Motors Company, United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), and the Kern Family Foundation.
Kimberly Demoret

Kimberly Demoret, Assistant Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

Kimberly Demoret teaches Aerospace Engineering capstone design at the Florida Institute of Technology. Before that, she worked for eight years at Kennedy Space Center on launch systems in support of NASA's space exploration goals. Her current research interests include engineering education, student motivation and retention, and the psychology of student teams. She is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and a licensed professional engineer in the state of Florida.
Robert Weaver

Robert Weaver, Associate Professor of Ocean Engineering, Florida Institute of Technology

Robert built a research program focused on coastal eco-engineering and circulation. He teaches courses in Coastal Structures, Waves, Coastal Processes, Port & Harbor Design, and created an immersive course, Surf Engineering Analysis, featured on Discovery Science Channel, that focuses on field data collection and basics of time-series analysis of a surfer riding the waves. During his Ph.D., he worked for URS Corps developing methodology for predicting flood levels for FEMA. In 2007, Robert and his wife founded Engineering for the Earth, a non-profit promoting sustainable design, building and engineering practice.

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