At the University of Delaware, ‘maker culture’ is defined as an atmosphere of hands-on learning and making that transcends the traditional hierarchy of knowledge dissemination and cuts across faculty, staff, and student populations.
The epicenter of the maker culture at the University of Delaware is the Design Studio housed within the Mechanical Engineering Department in the College of Engineering. However, the College of Arts & Sciences and even the library (among other programs) actively facilitate making through resources and formal as well as informal instruction.
The university is ramping up access to digital fabrication tools and integrating making in courses ranging from math and biology to art and engineering. New faculty with hands-on teaching experience work with the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education on spreading the maker culture through faculty workshops and programming designed to equip professors with the tools they need to implement maker style education within their existing curricula.
Problem based learning through the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education, Senior Design capstone courses in engineering, and early exposure to design in art and engineering courses support the development of maker skills from the bottom up and top down. The Multimedia Literacy Program run out of the Library enables students to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create multimedia.
Aside from formal training in shop skills and design, there are a number of student organizations, including the Inventor’s Club and ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), that involve the students in making activities outside of class time.
There are several primary facilities on campus that makers have access to. The Design Studio within the Mechanical Engineering Department is a 5,000 square foot facility open to the larger UD community that includes a fully functional and staffed machine shop along with two 3D printers, an electronics lab, and plenty of collaboration and work space. The Student Multimedia Design Center (www.lib.udel.edu/multimedia) in Morris Library has 80 computers, 4 video editing studios, a digital graphics studio, and a sound studio, all with general and multimedia-software applications to serve the entire UD community. The Center is open all of the hours the LIbrary is open, and provides expert help by way of a Multimedia Literacy Program, general multimedia-workshops, and the service desk which loans out over 200 pieces of equipment such as: video cameras, DSLRs, shotguns mics, etc. The Art Department has several studios devoted to making that range from print making to laser cutting, and several other tools and facilities for making are scattered across campus.
The University of Delaware held an event called “Make Something of your Summer” for area teachers in the summer of 2014 in conjunction with the White House Maker Faire. Several students and student organizations also attended the World Maker Faire in New York in September 2014. More formal and informal maker community engagement is planned for the years ahead.
We work with the Delaware Design Institute and several local companies, hospitals, and labs to consistently engage our students with interesting and impactful problems for them to solve through their design courses.
The MakerSeries run out of the Design Studio is in its second year and currently attracting students from several different schools and departments. The formal design courses are seeing more advanced prototypes than were previously possible, and the maker culture of sharing and learning is evident in student work both inside and outside of class.