Science, Technology and Health

Seattle U in the news: How maker spaces can open doors to STEM careers

November 22, 2019

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Maker spaces such as the one planned at Seattle U's new Center for Science and Innovation are promising strategies to make STEM learning appeal to a wider spectrum of students and achieve improving rates of degree and certificate completions.

Brendan Connolly, a partner at the architectural firm Mithun that designed the Center for Science and Innovation, writes in a guest column for the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce that "West Coast colleges and universities are finding promising strategies to make STEM learning appeal to a wider spectrum of students and achieve improving rates of degree and certificate completions. A key element is the linkage of programs across academic departments and student affairs to cultivate a robust and holistic support network that students can rely on as they encounter challenges. In addition, expanding connections between faculty and students outside the classroom helps activate mentorship opportunities, cultivate a sense of belonging and open the door to non-traditional degree paths.

"Real magic happens when this stronger cooperation between academic and student affairs is coupled together with flexible environments for interdisciplinary exploration.

"One highly visible example is the explosion of new maker and innovation spaces on campus, both as part of academic departments and within student life centers. These hands-on creation and collaboration spaces offer physical and digital design tools that introduce STEM learning to new audiences that might not otherwise consider traditional STEM degree paths. When co-located with casual group study spaces and tutoring or student affairs programming, these innovation spaces open the door to STEM careers and catalyze out-of-the-box thinking.

"This strategy is fundamental to Seattle University’s new Center for Science and Innovation (CSI), which not only provides exceptional teaching and research laboratory spaces that connect science faculty with their students, but also creates a new student life center on the campus.

 

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