2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Makers as Adaptive Experts-in-Training: How Maker Design Practices Could Lead to the Engineers of the Future

Presented at Makers, Making, and the Maker Movement

Self-regulated learning is a defining trait of the Maker Movement. Projects undertaken by Makers tend to be solutions to problems defined by the Makers themselves. They learn the knowledge and skills necessary as they become relevant in their project design process. This means that as they take on new projects, their adaptive expertise will be continuously tested. Unique challenges that they face in practical design requires Makers to identify how to approach and solve specific, multi-faceted problems. Lifelong Makers will then be the best equipped engineers of the future, as ability to learn and adapt to conquer new problems that arise in a constantly evolving technological landscape will better serve the Engineer of 2035 than knowledge of existing solutions and procedures.

This study answers the following research question: How do adult and young makers exhibit traits of adaptive expertise? 40 semi-structured artifact elicitation interviews were conducted with adult and young makers interviewed at Maker Faires in the United States. Artifact elicitation interviews provide a platform to understand how Makers overcame different obstacles they faced while designing their solutions. The artifact elicitation interviews from both Young and Adult Makers will show the variety of methods Makers use when facing challenges that they have not encountered before, including how their adaptive expertise dictates their design process. Having a better grasp of the Maker process and how exactly they utilize the help available in their learning ecology, will make it easier to apply Maker ideology to a classroom setting.

Results of the thematic analysis suggest that adaptive expertise is a significant characteristic in the mindset of a lifelong learner and especially the lifelong maker. The sense of intuition developed with age, and by the experience that comes from solving multiple complex, real world problems in a building project, shows that the lifelong Maker is the Engineer of 2035 The qualitative research indicates that everyone’s engineering design process is different, and based on the learning methods used in the past. Knowing oneself, and the skills one has, is crucial for an engineer to have when finding a career that they would enjoy and excel in, in the constantly growing and changing field of engineering and technology.

  1. James Larson Arizona State University [biography]
  2. Dr. Micah Lande Arizona State University [biography]
  3. Dr. Shawn S. Jordan Orcid 16x16http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1639-779X Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus [biography]
  4. Steven Weiner Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus [biography]
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