Ask MAKE: For engineering faculty

Ask MAKE is a weekly column where we answer reader questions, like yours. Write them in to or drop us a line on Twitter. We can’t wait to tackle your conundrums!

Michael Willits wrote in to us on Twitter, “Do you have suggestions for how engineering faculty could see as a valuable educational resource?” A few ideas come to mind.

Assign a re-engineer project

You could assign your students to search here on the site for an open source DIY project, then take the plans and re-work the design. This would work for all fields of engineering and you could even have them release the new, improved project plans back out there to the community online. It’s not about finding problems in other people’s designs, it’s about building on the group of dedicated makers and their innovative projects. Check out the archives in the following categories: electronics, furniture, computers, flying, open source hardware, robotics, science, and wireless.

Give a resources-limited problem

Create a project where the materials for completion are limited. It can be a software or hardware limitation, and could vary from person to person, say, “whatever you have in your garage,” or “the following electronics components only.” Send them here to look for inspiration.

Get feedback

If your students are keeping a public log of investigations (in blog form or otherwise), they can submit their work here using this page or to the Makezine forums. Getting a project or problem here on the blog is a great opportunity to expose student work to a wider audience that loves to give constructive feedback. Keeping a project blog is a great way to connect with other engineering students as well as interested industry members from around the country and world.

Use projects from the blog as case studies

A big part of engineering is communicating your ideas effectively. With your students, go over sample projects featured here and analyze their method of presentation and public response. Find and identify smart presentation methods and also places to improve. We frequently feature projects for the simple reason that they are documented extensively and completely. Check out our archive of Instructables as well for this one.

Have a suggestion for Michael? Are you an engineering professor using our site as an educational tool? Please share with us in the comments!

Photo above is some amazing papercraft by Haruki Nakamura.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

View more articles by Becky Stern


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