Part of the 4TU.Federation
4TU.
Centre for
Engineering Education

Project introduction and background information

Started in the ‘90s by MIT, the Michigan Institute of Technology set up the first FabLabs on-campus, which was followed by a huge success and spread out across 78 countries, with a network of 1000 locations. Like MIT, the 4TUs have numerous maker spaces, design factories, innovation spaces, learning spaces and so on. Such university spaces all have slightly different purposes, but must include opportunities for students to: (1) run and try their own projects, (2) have (expensive) equipment available (machine driven locations), (3) the opportunity to meet, (4) co-participate and (5) ask guidance from academia and industry in the spaces available. In this study the 22 maker spaces of TU Delft - spaces where making and reflection on the process of making and its results happen - are investigated. In this study the following question has been addressed: How do makerspaces offer pre-conditions for learning and to what extent do they contribute to student learning outcomes?

Objective and expected outcomes

In this study the aim was to get insights on the current role and impact of maker spaces on student learning and the impact on the regular curriculum. The ambition is to provide policy or teaching advise for those involved in the organisation and creation of maker spaces.

The outcomes have learned that there are extensive differences in purpose, access, nature of the maker spaces at TU Delft. These differences impact the extent in which pre-conditions for learning of students is present and as a result for student learning to take place. The results will be presented in the near future.

Results and learnings

Students learn the most in a learning space when there is opportunity to learn from peers, or support staff and motivational factors are important to stimulate students to do their work.  The more a maker space is student led, the more students learn from it. The TU Delft Dream hall is an excellent example.

  • Prototyping is the most learned practical skill in the Model Making and Machine Lab (at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering)
  • Innovating and fast iteration as well as social learning took place mostly in the Dream hall

The curricular and industry link to maker spaces in Delft across the different spaces is still limited or might take place in other educational initiatives.