I am an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I teach a medical design course in which the major goal is the design and prototype of a solution to a problem sponsored by local physicians and companies.
The favorite thing I have made is a medical simulator for different ailments in the abdominal region for training medical students.
My go-to Maker skill is the engineering design process. The actual manufacturing process will vary depending on the type of product, but the design process can be applied to any problem.
My biggest Making challenge has been from prototype to market. A rough prototype is easy with modern tools such as 3D printing. The challenge is in making a product that is mass produced, with robust manufacturing, and ready for market.
I define 'Maker culture' as rapid prototyping for entrepreneurs. There has recently been simultaneous surge in entrepreneurship and simplifying rapid prototyping tools (3D printing, microprocessing, etc). This is the combination of these.
There will soon be a maker studio in the center of campus where any student can make.
There are big problems in achieving mass customization. Making will solve many of these problems.
One challenge is finding its place in higher education, whether it is considered its own field, major, resource, or extracurricular activity. Another is in transition from making to market for entrepreneurs.
I think making is important to teach the skill of engineering design as a process analogous to the scientific method. The ideas of creative competency and prototyping should be available to anyone, and is useful in wide range of employment.
Learn the engineering design process and use it in your making effort.