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NOVA Awarded 3-Year “Makers By Design” Grant

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded NOVA a three-year grant, set to begin in September 2021, to establish a Professional Learning program in design thinking pedagogy for secondary and postsecondary educators. Makers By Design (MBD) as we call it, is officially titledSupporting Instructors to Embed Design Thinking in Digital Fabrication Courses.

Makers By Design Overview:

> Manufacturing and engineering technologies industries are facing a looming skills gap.

> Employers identify increasing need for soft skills (critical and design thinking, problem solving and communication) as manufacturing transitions to high-tech.

> There is a need to align engineering and engineering technology with industry defined technical and soft skills.

> MBD is a professional learning (PL) program for secondary and postsecondary educators focused on developing design thinking pedagogy through digital fabrication (e.g. 3D printing, laser engraving, CNC) techniques.

> Aligned with NSF includes broadening participation in STEM for underrepresented minorities.

> MBD will foster a community of practice between teachers, faculty, makerspace educators and industry.

The Grant

The curriculum will focus on design thinking projects that involve digital fabrication techniques, including 3D printing, laser engraving, and Computer Numerical Control milling. The Professional Learning program is expected to improve the educator’ teaching practices and enable them to update existing curricula and lesson plans to better align with industry relevant skills and techniques. The project also intends to create a community of practice around design thinking in digital fabrication that will build a beneficial network among secondary teachers, community college faculty, makerspace educators, and regional employers. It is expected that the project will support 36 secondary and postsecondary educators who will teach more than 3,000 K-12 and undergraduate students in the northern Virginia region. These students will have greater interest in and be better prepared for technical careers in manufacturing and engineering.

The overarching goal of the project is to use Professional Learning to move digital fabrication instruction beyond the reproduction of simple objects. Instead, the project will train educators to use pedagogy and cognitive strategies to embed design thinking into their digital fabrication lessons and courses. As a result, students will learn to use design thinking to build complex, useful objects.

The project’s specific aims include to: (1) create a professional learning institute; (2) host digital fabrication summer camps at NOVA and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington; (3) host a semiannual design and digital fabrication challenge; and (4) establish an online resource library of projects and lesson plans created and refined by educators in the community of practice. The project is expected to advance: understanding of the pedagogies that help to develop student interest in manufacturing and engineering; the capacity for Professional Learning to facilitate integration of design thinking into classrooms and makerspaces; and the extent to which a capstone design challenge may foster sustainable change in instructional practices. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy.

The NOVA Fab Lab has a Makerspace utilized by many NOVA programs and the community as well as a new Makers Program for college students coming up this fall

Check out the NOVA Fab Lab Page

#WeDoSTEM

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Engineering Design Challenge NOVA Fab Lab STEM Awards

NOVA Fab Lab Design Challenge Winners

NOVA Fab Lab Design Challenge 2021 Winners

On July 14th the NOVA Fab Lab held an in-person awards ceremony to recognize the 2021 Design Challenge winners, alongside their family members and friends, who were able to see their fabricated designs, meet the judges, receive their prizes and participate in a Fab Lab tour!

The Design challenge consisted of secondary and post-secondary students designing a product that would interact with a common household item to create a toy or game, to “make something amazing out of something ordinary.” Participants were judged based upon digital designs and written descriptions.  The top three then had their winning designs fabricated in the lab (using a Stratasys F370 3D printer) and received them for the first time at the ceremony. 

The 1st place award was won by a two-person team consisting of Charlotte Miller and Michael Neal for their product titled, Puzzle Knot.  Numerous rubber bands are hooked and interwoven through the cubical structure of the product and then the user must try to unravel the resultant knot.  This team won the top prize of an Ultimaker Original+ 3D printer, one year of Solidworks design software, certificate plaques, and their fabricated product.  

Ines Kapur earned 2nd place with her Corkables design.  Inspired by a childhood craft project (which she still has today), Ines created a series of fun animal faces and legs which attached to either end of a cork. These could then be personalized several ways. Ines received a voucher for a free product development consultation with Storycraft Lab, one year of Solidworks design software, certificate plaque, and her fabricated product.

The 3rd place award went to Oscar Platt for his Spyn Art Machine, which incorporated multiple 3D-printed parts such as cranks, gears, and pins into an assembly capable of making spirograph art on its spinning circular surface. Oscar received one year of Solidworks design software, a certificate plaque, and multiple fabricated versions of his design.  

All participants had a chance to hear from the judges and explore the Fab Lab space.  A guided tour was provided after the event with an emphasis on the additive manufacturing technology (3D printing) used to create the winning design prototypes.  Awards, support, and volunteer judges were provided by our sponsors the Amtek Company, Storycraft Lab, and Micron.  Special thanks to our judges including, Alex Baddock with the Amtek Company, Naomi Claire Crellin with Storycraft Lab, and Afnan Ali with Lockhead Martin. #WeDoSTEM

Original Tweet about the event
Quote Tweet by NOVA President, Dr. Kress