Maker skills and a humanitarian mindset are playing an increasingly important role in engineering programs across the country as a way to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. The Make It Happen Program enables students to participate/develop hands on projects that benefit society and earn course credit while doing so. The program combines the benefits of a client-centered project that requires students to use what they have learned in the classroom with the intrinsic motivation that students possess when they genuinely care about their work. In under a year, a collaborative team of students and professors at our university have developed and implemented an endowed program that has allowed dozens of students to work alongside faculty members as they design, develop, and deliver solutions for humanitarian needs. This paper will discuss lessons learned and how a similarly sustainable program might be implemented at other institutions.
This new program is helping students find their passion for engineering and is making a difference in countless lives as it accelerates innovation by using student teams and an advisor working collaboratively to solve technical problems. Students help to organize the program as well as work in project teams. The process and calendar for identifying projects, selecting project teams, and executing the projects through independent study courses are detailed in this paper.
The skillset and mindset learned through the Make It Happen program are vital for an engineer to be a successful innovator and entrepreneur. In the first year of the program, student work has included designing equipment to enable a child in Moldova to walk again, developing a modular service dog pack, and creating equestrian therapy training equipment.
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