The Impact of a Mobile 3D Printing and Making Platform on Student Awareness and Engagement

Swapnil Sinha, Kelsey Rieger, Aaron D. Knochel, Nicholas A. Meisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


3D printing technology has played an integral part in the growth of makerspaces, showing potential in enabling the integration of art (A) with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, giving new possibilities to STEAMimplementation. This paper presents the effectiveness of a deployable mobile making platform and its curriculum, focused on 3D printing education. This setup, which draws inspiration from modern makerspaces, was deployed for 227 undergraduate students in Art and Engineering majors at multiple campuses of a large northeastern university and used in either a pre-arranged hour-long session or voluntary walk-in session. Self-reported surveys were created to measure participants' pre- A nd post-exposure awareness of 3D printing, design, and STEAM quantified through their (1) familiarity, (2) attitude, (3) interest, and (4) self-efficacy. Additionally, observations on participant engagement and use of the space were made. Statistically significant increases in awareness of 3D printing technology were observed in the participants from both Art and Engineering majors, as well as at different campus locations, irrespective of their initial differences. Observations also show a difference in engagement between prearranged sessions and walk-in sessions, which indicates that different session formats may promote specific engagement with different participant types. Ultimately, this research demonstrates two key findings: (1) though they may gravitate to different elements of 3D printing and design, a single makerspace can be used to engage both Art and Engineering students and (2) by introducing mobility to the traditional idea of a makerspace, participants with different initial levels of AMawareness can be brought to similar final awareness. This second finding is especially essential given the disparities in modern student access to 3D printing technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1411-1427
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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