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

At Tufts University, ‘maker culture’ comes from our students’ drive to take their wonderful ideas and make them come to be. In that pursuit, they better themselves, share their knowledge with one another, and reinforce each other’s drive and abilities, enabling each other to be better makers.

How does your institution foster maker culture?

Tufts University offers students the freedom to pursue their ideas as well as opportunities to make them. We also connect the different makers and makerspaces on campus through Tufts Maker Network, an online resource for students to find resources for making and connect with other makers at Tufts.

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

Tufts University has several courses that engage students in taking on and master new making skills. Our freshman engineering classes have students designing, programming, and building within the first week while some courses have you building museum pieces or your own acoustic/electronic instruments.

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

Tufts University has recently created their own maker network to help connect maker spaces across campus and promote resources to makers. They also revamped many of the freshman intro courses to be more hands on project based rather than theoretical and discipline overviews. We have courses in robotics, musical instrument design, entrepreneurship, as well as the arts using these spaces.

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

Tufts University has several student groups on campus who are dedicated to making. There is the Crafts House, which focuses on the arts and the Bot Club which focuses on robotics, as well as Tufts Make which is more broadly focused on team-based design and the exploration of new ideas. 

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

Tufts University has several small makerspaces including Jumbo’s Maker Studio and the Crafts Center. The facilities have equipment ranging from kilns and screen printers to dremels and hand tools to laser cutters and 3D printers. The Maker Studio is also outfitted with a number of sensors to help measure the learning and sharing happening in the space.

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

 Tufts University explores using maker spaces as learning environment for k-12 and university education. We also have partnerships with local and international maker spaces. Some of groups even engage local young makers through involvement in FLL. 

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

Tufts University helps develop maker spaces in the community and abroad. We work with local K-8 and high schools, the New York Hall of Science, a new Maker Space in Zurich and Tokyo, and a university and high schools in Indonesia to support maker education. We are also working with LEGO Education and the LEGO Foundation to better understand the learning happening in these spaces.

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

Making has inspired many student organizations to form on Tufts campus aimed at student-driven learning. Many of the departments have also set up their own fabrication spaces as well as opened up equipment availability. It was this interest that drove the creation of Tufts Maker Network to connect these makerspaces and makers. 

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

Our success is really in measuring and understanding the learning happening in these spaces - as well as developing spaces attractive to a broad spectrum of learners and expertise. Our success stories range from teams winning prizes at the Trinity Fire Fighting Contest to seeing students start their own school within a school - teaching each other robotics skills. We have seen liberal arts students invent new musical instruments and learning engineering skills along the way. So the successes are not measured by kickstarters but rather by the learning community that the students have developed.

Learn more about Making at Tufts