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

We define make culture as one that encourages our students (both as students and as teachers) to learn through experience in creating products and exploration with materials to solve problems and express themselves. Our make culture is rooted in constructivist learning theory, an apprenticeship model of teaching and learning, project based learning, and problem solving. We believe maker culture works best when individuals can work collaboratively as a team as well as invent on their own.

How does your institution foster maker culture?

We foster maker culture through our institution-wide professional focus, integration of making into course work, makeshops and creative labs. We encourage creation and design of objects using basic materials as well as state of the art technology (e.g. 3D printing). 

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

Maker education is infused into specific course in teacher education and is also fostered through open access to a makeshop. 

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

Within the Department of Education, maker skills are supported through a collaborative effort (i.e. The Ohio River Consortium) with four local school districts to train both pre-service and in-service teachers to infuse making into learning. The Department of Education has created a Makeshop on campus to allow our teachers in training to experiment with making, find their own creative and entrepreneurial talents, and work as a team to solve problems and to graduate as “maker-ready” teachers. 

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

Education majors are involved in making through coursework, the open makeshop lab, and through field experiences in local schools active in the maker movement. 

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

The primary facility for making in the Education Department is the makeshop located in the RMU Library. The makeshop includes materials that could be used for making in preschool through high school. These include consumable construction materials, creative materials, a letter press, laminator, 3D printer, drills and other tools, sewing machines, computer software and workstations. 

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

Currently RMU is the lead in a grant funded through the Grable foundation with four local school districts to infuse making into learning k-12. As part of this initiative we host a webpage, resource guide, and maker blog. We will be featuring the maker movement at our annual education conference this spring on campus. We plan to participate in the Week of Remake Learning in Pittsburgh in May at both the university level (tours of our teacher education makeshop) and as part of a k-12 Makerfaire. 

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

We are the lead in the Ohio River Consortium, have a partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and have partnered with a local school district on an NSF grant application which includes development of a mobile makeshop. 

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

Maker culture on campus has affirmed RMU’s professional focus and helped us guide our students to deep level learning. 

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

Our makeshop has just been put into place this year and our initial work with our partner school districts has just begun. We anticipate that as the schools and teacher education program delve into the project that we will be ready to share some innovative student success stories next year. Already, students in our Psychology program are using the Makeshop to create optical illusion projects to demonstrate how perception and cognition work as well.