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  1. The motivation for this exploratory qualitative study is to understand what a culture of belonging may look like across six engineering education making spaces in institutions of higher education in the U.S. The research question for this study was: In what ways are the management, instructors, and staff operating engineering education making spaces influencing a culture of belonging (if any) for engineering students? We examined the transcripts of semi-structured interviews of 49 faculty members and 29 members of management/staff of making spaces, using thematic coding. From the data, we identified four themes that described the culture of belonging being created in these six engineering making spaces: (a) a ‘closed loop’ culture for inclusion, diversity, equity, and access; (b) a ‘transactional, dichotomous’ culture; (c) a ‘band-aid, masquerading’ culture; (d) a potential ‘boundary-crossing’ culture. Our primary conclusion was that created cultures in engineering making spaces are extensions of normative cultures found in traditional engineering classrooms. Additionally, while making spaces were attempting to change this culture in their physical infrastructures, it was deemed that the space leadership needs to expand hiring strategies, the nature of making activities, the ambient/physical appearance of the space, disciplines, and required expertise, to create a truly inclusive andmore »equitable culture of belonging.« less
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    University-based makerspaces are receiving increasing attention as promising innovations that may contribute to the development of future engineers. Using a theory of social boundary spaces, we investigated whether the diverse experiences offered at university-based makerspaces may contribute to students’ learning and development of various “soft” or “21st century” skills that go beyond engineering-specific content knowledge. Through interviews with undergraduate student users at two university-based makerspaces in the United States we identified seven different types of boundary spaces (where multiple communities, and the individuals and activities affiliated with those communities, come together). We identified students engaging in the processes of identification, reflection, and coordination, which allowed them to make sense of, and navigate, the various boundary spaces they encountered in the makerspaces. These processes provided students with opportunities to engage with, and learn from, individuals and practices affiliated with various communities and disciplines. These opportunities can lead to students’ development of necessary skills to creatively and collaboratively address interdisciplinary socio-scientific problems. We suggest that university-based makerspaces can offer important developmental experiences for a diverse body of students that may be challenging for a single university department, program, or course to offer. Based on these findings, we recommend university programs and facultymore »intentionally integrate makerspace activities into undergraduate curricula to support students’ development of skills, knowledge, and practices relevant for engineering as well as 21st century skills more broadly.« less
  3. null (Ed.)
    In the last decade, postsecondary institutions have seen a notable increase in makerspaces on their campuses and the integration of these spaces into engineering programs. Yet research into the efficacy of university-based makerspaces is sparse. We contribute to this nascent body of research in reporting on findings from a phenomenological study on the perceptions of faculty, staff, and students concerning six university-based makerspaces in the United States. We discuss the findings using a framework of heterogeneous engineering (integration of the social and technical aspects of engineering practice). Various physical, climate, and programmatic features of makerspaces were read as affordances for students’ development of engineering practices and their continued participation and persistence in engineering. We discuss the potential of makerspaces in helping students develop knowledge, skills, and proclivities that may support their attending to especially wicked societal problems, such as issues of sustainability. We offer implications for makerspace administrators, engineering program leaders, faculty, and staff, as well as those developing and delivering professional development for faculty and staff, to better incorporate makerspaces into the university engineering curriculum.
  4. Makerspaces are a growing trend in engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education at both the university and K-12 levels. These spaces which, in theory, are characterized by a community of likeminded individuals interested in digital fabrication and innovative design, are argued to provide opportunities to foster the skills sets critical to the next generation of engineers and scientists. However, spaces for making are not new to the engineering curriculum as many engineering programs have well-established machine shops orbproject labs that students utilize to complete course projects. In this work-in-progress exploratory study, the authors evaluated early undergraduate students’ perceptions of two contrasting spaces, a contemporary makerspace and a traditional engineering shop. As part of an Introduction to Engineering course, students were asked to visit the two campus spaces, identify important equipment and policies they noticed in each space, and describe their perception of how the spaces were similar or different. Based on our initial findings, we speculate that access and safety issues in engineering shops may limit their use by early year engineering undergraduates. Alternatively, digital fabrication technologies and community culture in makerspaces can provide access to a hands-on prototyping and collaborative learning environment for early year engineeringmore »students.« less
  5. Introduction The increasing demands for a 21st century postsecondary education-- that incorporates the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences--in contrast to the stasis of engineering curriculum, has catalyzed an engineering education “identity crisis” [1]-[9]. Without an understanding of the engineering norms, practices, and worldviews that engineering students and instructors carry from their courses, there is an increased risk that underrepresentation in engineering will continue to persist. This work aims to expand a previously developed study on engineering professional identity by exploring two unique engineering courses (serving as case studies) at a college of engineering at a western institution in the U.S. One course focused on helping engineering students develop technical communication skills while the other course aimed to help underrepresented women in engineering to understand about and plan for careers in engineering. Both cases are uniquely positioned to help engineering education researchers elucidate how professionally-focused and career-planning engineering courses could guide students’ perceptions about engineering.
  6. As the popularity of makerspaces in higher education continues to grow, we seek to understand how students perceive these spaces as tools to prepare them for future engineering careers. Introduced in engineering education in early 2000’s, makerspaces have the potential to foster development of 21st century and technical skills through hands-on constructionist learning. The core tenants of the maker mindset include: Growth Through Failure, Collaborative Learning, Creativity and Innovation, and Student Agency
  7. Makerspaces have become a rather common structure within engineering education programs. The spaces are used in a wide range of configurations but are typically intended to facilitate student collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, essentially giving students the opportunity to learn 21st century skills and develop deeper understanding of the processes of engineering. Makerspace structure, layout, and use has been fairly well researched, yet the impact of makerspaces on student learning is understudied, somewhat per a lack of tools to measure student learning in these spaces. We developed a survey tool to assess undergraduate engineering students’ perceptions and learning in makerspaces, considering levels of students’ motivation, professional identity, engineering knowledge, and belongingness in the context of makerspaces. Our survey consists of multiple positively-phrased (supporting a condition) and some negatively-phrased (refuting a condition) survey items correlated to each of our four constructs. Our final survey contained 60 selected response items including demographic data. We vetted the instrument with an advisory panel for an additional level of validation and piloted the survey with undergraduate engineering students at two universities collecting completed responses from 196 participants. Our reliability analysis and additional statistical calculations revealed our tool was statistically sound and was effectively gatheringmore »the data we designed the instrument to measure.« less
  8. In this paper we describe a joint Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program focused on energy and sustainability topics within a Materials Science and Engineering program at a public university. This program brought ten undergraduate science and engineering students and five local middle and high school teachers on campus for an 8-week research experiences working with different lab groups. Given the relatively small number of participants, we chose qualitative interviews as our primary source of data for assessing the effectiveness of this program. The participants identified numerous positive aspects of participating in the summer research program. Students appreciated the sense of community they developed with both the other participants in the research program and the other members of their lab groups. Although most of the participants did not report the summer research experience as having a strong influence on their decisions to pursue graduate school or careers involving research, they did report both being more confident in their ability to be successful as a researcher and appreciating the opportunity to learn more about the practice of engineering research in an academic setting. For the teachers involved in the program we describe how participation influencedmore »their leadership, perceptions of adoption educational innovations, and willingness to provide more opportunities to engage their students in authentic STEM research. The participants also provided several recommendations for improvement to the summer research program. For the students, these included more materials in advance and a more streamlined onboarding process to allow them to get up to speed on their projects more quickly, consistent access to their supervisors, and work that is intellectually challenging. Suggestion from the teacher participants for improvement mostly involved requests for more guidance on how to incorporate what they were learning in their research into lessons for their classrooms. By describing this program and the successes and challenges encountered by the participants and organizers, we intend to help others considering implementing REU/RET programs or other summer research experiences to design and implement successful programs.« less
  9. Production and Characterization of Graphene and Other 2-dimensional Nanomaterials: An AP High School Inquiry Lab (Curriculum Exchange)According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanoscience and nanotechnology areexpected to play key roles in developing solutions to some of our greatest global engineeringchallenges in energy, medicine, security, and scientific discovery. There is high expectation thatdevelopments in nanotechnology will lead to new job creation and become an economic driverwith new direction for research and development coming from nano-enabled products. In light ofthe potential economic and national security implications, it is imperative that we support thedevelopment of the next generation of the high school curriculum as a way to motivate studentstowards pursuing education and careers in nanotechnology. Recent advances in nanomaterialsprocessing, particularly 2-dimensional nanomaterials synthesis, present the opportunity tointegrate nanotechnology curriculum into high schools in safe and relatively inexpensivemanners. The multifunctional characteristics of 2-dimensional nanomaterials make themattractive for printable and flexible electronics, nanostructured thermoelectrics, photovoltaics,batteries, and biological and chemical sensors. Thus, 2-dimensional nanomaterials provide anideal context for high school students to investigate the principles of nanoscience andnanotechnology. In our work, we present an Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry Inquiry Laboratory (CIL),which is being implemented at Centennial High School in Meridian, Idaho. The CIL is aligned toNationalmore »College Board requirements for AP Chemistry courses as well as Next GenerationScience Standards. The laboratory is designed to encompass approximately five hours of time,including teacher preparation time, pre-laboratory activities, materials synthesis andcharacterization, and a field trip to a local industry partner for scanning electron microscopyanalysis of the resultant nanomaterials. Students are organized into small groups under thecontext that they are working to produce and characterize nanomaterials as part of an industryresearch team. To synthesis the 2-dimensional nanomaterials, students use cosolvent exfoliationof layered materials such as graphite, MoS2, WS2, and hBN. The students must then use opticalspectroscopy and electrical characterization techniques to determine if their material is aconductor, semiconductor, or an insulator. The students then use scanning electron microscopyto image the morphology of the 2-dimensional nanoflakes they produced, which exposes thestudents to advanced nanoscale characterization techniques.« less