Making in Undergraduate Engineering Education
This engineering education research seeks to achieve the societal goal of realizing human potential by increasing the number, diversity, and capability of STEM professionals through a national coalition that cultivates, implements, and propagates Making in Undergraduate STEM Education (MUSE). In this context, Making extends beyond the simple act of prototyping to the physical embodiment and internalization of abstract STEM concepts. In the cultivation stage, the research team will benchmark and implement resources/programs for Making and related pedagogies that include Cooperative Learning, Project-Based and Problem-Based Instruction, and Service-Learning to culminate in a vibrant community effectively using a new 8,500 sq ft makerspace. In the implementation stage, STEM faculty will implement the cultivated resources in Making-oriented courses as well as gateway courses in which a high proportion of students score a D, Withdraw, or Fail (DWF); these courses will be supported by undergraduate Maker-Scholars, many who will be UTeach pre-service teachers and a majority of whom will be from underrepresented groups. The propagation stage will evaluate the interventions to guide continuous improvement, deeply institutionalize the interventions through an Executive Advisory Board, and broadly disseminate to community college and other partners towards the cultivation of a national MUSE Coalition.
Intellectual Merit: Discipline-based education research has already shown that the proposed pedagogies (including Making) are effective, yet meta-analyses of many STEM intervention programs indicate that voluntary participation models have failed to bring about sufficient change; the focus of STEM reform must be on promoting the implementation of interventions already known to be effective rather than on assessing the outcomes of these interventions. Accordingly, the strategy here is to closely align the MUSE program with the host institution’s mission and culture. In this context, the administration can require the use of the proposed MUSE interventions in core courses during course scheduling and instructor assignments; disinterested faculty can be reassigned to other courses or traditional course sections for comparison. The research team will investigate two related hypotheses. First, the research team will determine if STEM interventions are equally effective in mandatory and voluntary course assignments relative to a set of established performance metrics for traditional, didactic course offerings. Second, given the need to intervene in a diversity of courses with varied educational objectives, the research team will also test whether project-based implementations that facilitate synthesis of course content across the span of a semester differ in performance outcomes from problem-based implementations that partition course content into multiple smaller problems, again comparing both intervention models to didactic course offerings.
Broader Impacts: The MUSE program will have a direct impact on 87 STEM faculty, implementing over 200 courses and serving approximately 5,000 students. The proposed program will also directly impact 124 Maker-Scholars, the majority from underrepresented populations, who will receive in-depth training, close mentoring, and valuable experience in their service. The knowledge gained through the program execution will be embodied in an archive of Making resources with mapping to specific learning objectives that will provide valuable guidance for other Making-based curricula. Transfer will occur through annual workshops, UTeach, and other national conferences, traditional publications, and a regional, if not national, MUSE Coalition. The proposed program will leverage the results of prior NSF funded work related to institutionalization with EFELTS (Effect of Faculty Engagement on Learning Through Service) and SLICE (Service Learning Integrated throughout a College of Engineering), as well as experience related to Bybee’s 5E pedagogy with UTeach, Making with the University’s makerspace, and entrepreneurship with DifferenceMakers. These accumulated experiences will maximize the program contributions and dissemination to a large variety of institutions. As a result, the proposed program will significantly increase the number, diversity, and quality of preparation of STEM professionals to enhance human welfare.
Mental Meta-Models Interpreting Abstract and Experiential Worlds (Credit to Margot Brereton circa 1995)
Manufacturing Outsourcing, Onshoring, and Global Equilibrium
Manufacturing is now a national strategy for many countries to combat slow economic growth, and positively viewed with the current trend of “onshoring” foreign manufacturing operations. We develop a cross-country regression model that predicts manufacturing employment as a function of population growth, foreign direct investment, and purchasing power parity. Results through the year 2100 suggest that manufacturing is trending towards a global equilibrium with higher levels of manufacturing outputs but much lower levels of manufacturing employment. The reason is that countries tend to evolve from having little manufacturing to “commodity” manufacturing at large scale and low wages. As infrastructure and human capital develop, there is the tendency to pursue “advanced” manufacturing in support of higher wages. The manufacture of “commodity” products is then outsourced to those countries with lower costs justified by their less developed infrastructure and human capital and so the virtuous cycle continues. While this model suggests that current efforts in revitalization of domestic manufacturing would lead to an increase in wealth in the United States, the bad news is that these gains are unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. The good news is that manufacturing acts as a rising tide that raises all nations and our global quality of life.