As an institution, how would you define 'maker culture'?

Maker culture is about combining DIY and Technology to enable people to actualize the products of their imagination.

How does your institution foster maker culture?

Howard University is supporting maker culture by providing opportunities for students to imagine and create. We provide coursework that refines our students’ ability to ideate, spaces with tools such as 3D printers which facilitate their ability to make, and partnerships which network them with the larger maker community. 

How are you approaching maker education with your current or future curricula?

Our current curriculum places an emphasis on design thinking, in particular. In the freshman year, for example, all incoming engineering students have multiple exposures to design thinking and prototyping. Moving forward there will be an increased emphasis on the marriage of ideation and making.

What are the key programs, initiatives or classes that support the development of maker skills?

The central program that will facilitate the development of maker skills is the HowU Innovate initiative. Through that initiative, a new Innovation Lab is being brought online that will become the focus of design thinking and making on campus.  

How are your students involved in making? Are there maker groups or organizations on campus organized by students?

Our students are currently involved in making through the HU Innovate student club. The club focuses on interdisciplinary teaming to identify problems and create solutions.

Give a snapshot overview of the primary facilities, technologies and tools that campus makers have or will have access to?

Primary facility:

HowU Innovate Lab – large ideation and making space equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, raspberry pi boards, and also low tech “speed of thought” materials.

Supporting facilities:

GENIUS Advanced Manufacturing Lab – 3D printers, and CNC milling equipment.

Fine Arts Digital Studio – 3D printers

Fine Arts Sculpture Atelier – Wood and metal working equipment

How does your school engage with the maker community at large?

To date, Howard University has engaged with the maker community by participating in local demonstrations hosted by makers as well as hosting events on campus like hackathons.

What partnerships (informal or formal) do you have with makers and/or community organizations outside of campus?

We currently have relationships with the DC Fab Lab and IDEASpace both are DC-based organizations focused on making/fabrication and have a shared use model.

In addition, we also have relationships with 1776 and GeneralAssembly which are local co-working and learning spaces, respectively, which focus in part on developing design thinking skills.

What has been the impact of maker culture on your campus?

Maker culture has helped to encourage inter-disciplinary teaming.

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

As a result of maker culture and the associated tools, we have had a few early successes:

  • A group of seniors developed a mail-opening device to assist a person with disabilities on the job. The device reduced the time it took to open the mail from 1 minute to 10 seconds.
  • A Howard team has developed an app to improve access and efficiency in the informal job market in South Africa. The app is currently being piloted.
  • A team entered and won a Collaboration and Innovation Challenge in transportation by proposing an upgrade to current bikeshare systems to include personal mobility devices.
  • A multi-disciplinary team has been building and installing water filters in Kenya.