On December 3rd 2014, a group of signatory schools who supported 'Fostering a Generation of Makers' White House Maker Faire campaign gathered in Washington DC to discuss next steps. This generated incredible ideas and insight as we moved another step forward in defining a Maker Alliance Network for higher education institutions. Four work streams were created to explore possible next steps for the Alliance: the development of online resources; the preparation of a maker portfolio initiative, the development of increased funding for Maker opportunities, and promotion and advocacy for Making in higher education.
Below you will find one of the four next step proposals prepared by our workstream committees. We invite your feedback, as well as any additions or alternative approaches you might suggest. You are also welcome to indicate your interest in volunteering to work on this committee.
Finally, we also welcome new ideas for next steps. To contribute additional proposals, add a new topic to the 'Next Steps' discussion forum on MakeSchools.org.
Please share any feedback no later than March 1, 2015.
As the Maker Movement transitions from a grassroots, individually-driven activity to one that impacts the research and educational experience within our higher education system and thus the workforce of the future, we are finding that alignment with traditional systems of support have not yet matched up. Within the Federal government, industry, and colleges/universities themselves, the definition of makers, the impact of makers, and the understanding of the maker movement is not uniformly understood and accepted. Moreover, even with common language and understanding, ideas on institutional structures and financial incentives to support Makers to change our educational and workforce practices has yet to be investigated on a broader level. The necessity of creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem to support makers in the country has to be realized by multiple stakeholder involvement.
With the Maker Movement gaining traction across the country, we have arrived at a timely opportunity for organizing and engaging in conversations, where plans can be set for policy, funding, and practice in support of the Maker Movement. This is an opportunity for bringing back manufacturing jobs to the United States, fostering innovative small businesses, accelerating design and prototyping, as well as regaining and maintaining our competitive advantage by incorporating agility into manufacturing.
We propose to establish a Presidential Task Force that would consist of representatives from Federal agencies; small, medium, and large scale industry partners as well as institutions of higher education of varying levels. This Presidential Task Force would provide recommendations to the President of the United States for ways to tackle policies of importance to Makers; directives for cross-agency support as a way to break down agency silos; and development of programs that build off of private-public partnerships. In addition, it would serve as a clearinghouse for resources--both financial and in-kind--in support of the higher education maker community. A long-term option may be the development of something akin to ARPA-m.
Figure 1: Concept image for the Presidential Commission