The Maker Movement is all about “learning by doing,” supported by online communities and DIY publications like Make:, by 2,000 shared makerspaces around the world, and by in-person Maker Faire events held in 72 countries (and counting). But DIY doesn’t mean learning alone — the Maker Movement has also been embraced by educators who seek to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and the arts.
Hands-on “maker education” — training in the tools and techniques of electronics and engineering, 3D design and digital fabrication, and traditional craft skills — has become a star attraction at institutions of higher learning. Maker education is cutting-edge, constantly evolving, and exciting — a pathway to brand-new careers literally creating the future.
For the second year, Make: has sought out the Best Maker Schools in Higher Education. Nominated by our unique global community of makers, educators, and Maker Faire leaders, we’ve added to our original list of great maker schools — powerhouse universities with vast resources, lesser-known schools with amazing programs, and standout community colleges, vocational and trade schools. Large or small, these are the schools that have invested in innovative maker-focused programs and on-campus makerspaces, the schools that makers themselves want to attend to deepen their skills and broaden their scope.
We hope this list will help guide students, parents, educators, and employers to recognize excellence in maker education around the world.
Methodology This non-ranked list was generated by recommendation through a survey tool in collaboration with an international community of educators, administrators, students, and maker leaders. To be considered for the list, recommended schools had to demonstrate excellence or competency in the following areas:
Integrated learning-through-doing orientation
Mentoring / guidance / coaching for making
Physical makerspaces / fab labs / workshops / studios
Accessible spaces and tools that support independent, collaborative projects
How was Make: able to gather the most comprehensive list of maker schools? We’re non-biased — we are not an education institution looking to compete, nor an education-market publisher. We are a community of makers of all types and levels, from self-taught inventors and rank beginners to PhD engineers and entrepreneurs.
We asked our unique network of makers and educators in the US and worldwide that’s been built over 15 years by Maker Faires, Make: Magazine, and events like our Maker Education Forum. Many of the schools on this list have built a maker community over the years by hosting local and regional Maker Faires.
We strove for a balance of programs: engineering but also arts and design, vocational/technical, mechanical/fabrication, and standout interdisciplinary programs. We also strove for geographic balance, soliciting recommendations for all regions of the US and the world, and considered accessibility (location and cost).
Make: has been a vanguard of the worldwide maker movement through the publication of Make: magazine and Make: books for over 16 years, as well as through a global network of Maker Faires. Make: has two goals: to increase the number of people who are exposed to making and become makers, and to share the wide variety of projects that makers create and show their contribution to our society. Make: believes it is essential that more youth are provided access to the tools, materials, concepts, and support to grow as makers through both formal and informal learning opportunities in their local communities. Making empowers people to solve real-world problems and develop their own voices and skills. Making creates a more highly skilled workforce ready for the 21st century.
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