Journey Towards Designing Inclusive Makerspaces

WENDY ROLDAN I am a junior studying Mechanical Engineering with a Segal Design Certificate. I am the oldest of three girls and was born and raised in Chicago! I can't wait to start my research with high school students because  Understanding his new phenomenon of how we can promote a sense of belonging to makerspaces for high school students is really important to me in order to design tools and spaces that support greater interaction and participation among minority populations. Wendy was funded by the Summer Undergraduate Research Grant program in Northwestern's Office of Undergraduate Research.  It provides a living expense stipend for students to explore independent research and/or creative projects.

New Friends, Partnerships & Initiatives Across Evanston and Chicago

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Hi there! I officially started my research project for the summer four weeks ago so this is my halfway point check-in for myself and those who wish to follow my blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my process and please contact me if you have any insights, questions or comments – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In case you were wondering, for my research I define a makerspace as a physical place that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and requires students through hands-on engineering to utilize both the high powered tools in their surroundings and the people in the space to engage in the activity of “making” or “tinkering”

I have spent the past four weeks, researching, learning from and making new friends in makerspaces across Evanston and Chicago. It has been a wonderful journey so far towards 1) gaining experience on being an independent researcher who uses the assets around me 2) acquiring knowledge from leaders of makerspaces who aim to keep equity and inclusion in mind when developing curriculum and programming for their initiatives 3) learning how to manage my time and organize my thoughts, analysis and questions throughout my project

I have worked on a research interest statement so that I can better explain to new friends I am meeting what my focus is on and see if they have any recommendations on papers or people I should reach out to! My research interests are drawn from the fields of design thinking, engineering education, and the learning sciences.

Most importantly, I am gaining so much insight from students who use makerspaces as a part of their engineering education by simply asking them to recount their experiences. I’ve been having fascinating conversations with leaders of various makerspaces in Evanston/Chicago who have told me stories about their experience after many years in the field and the students they have influenced or the innovative projects they have seen. I am infinitely grateful to everyone who has taken time out of their days and share their stories with me as well as show genuine interest in my project.

I asked my mentor Julie one day around week two of my research journey when the “magic” of research happens and really, it was not until this week that I was able to wrap my head around the fact that I am collecting snippets of people’s experiences participating in or leading makerspaces in the hopes that I can make my small contribution of findings to the greater world of design and academia to better improve gender and ethnic minorities experiences in makerspaces for an equitable experience for everyone.

One of the bumps in the road I have encountered has been undermining the amount of time it takes to audio record, transcribe and code my interviews but thanks to all the support I am receiving from my mentor Julie and Professor Gerber, I have found ways to spread out my tasks throughout the day so that I don’t spend too much time just transcribing.

When I am not spending time in the friendly Delta Lab in Ford ^with the triangles seen above, I visit the DFA summer studio going on downstairs, my friends in the prototyping lab, and I have been hanging out at coffee shops or the lakefill with friends who are also in Evanston!

It’s been a very unique feeling to be on campus this summer and be able to process my thoughts on my research without also trying to balance a full-courseload. TY for listening and if you know anyone/anything that could be relevant to my research — feel free to send them my way!

Starting off…

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog to learn more about my research this summer. If you have any questions, comments or ideas to contribute please reach out – I’d love to connect and learn from you! 

The purpose of my project is to better understand how makerspaces support or limit feelings of inclusion among gender and ethnic minorities in engineering. At the end of this summer, I hope to provide design implications, practices and technologies for creating makerspaces that aim to keep diversity in mind.