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Olin College Awards Grants for 'Bold' Ideas in Remaking Ed

closeup of hands working on robot in makerspace

Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts has awarded grants to several external projects working to re-envision education. The grant program was introduced during "Remaking Education," an event convened by Olin and Emerson College last November, where nearly 250 educators, employers, nonprofit professionals, policymakers and others came together to participate in a day-long collaboration focused on accelerating change in education. All of the attendees were invited to develop a grant proposal for a project that would "bring an idea hatched during the event to fruition." Winning proposals would offer "a bold vision for meaningful change in education and a plan for achieving it (or at least making real progress towards it)."

The winner of a $15,000 "GREAT" (Grant for Remaking Education through Action Together) grant was a team that included the University of New Haven in Connecticut, Pennsylvania's Bucknell University and MakeHaven, a community makerspace in New Haven. The funding will give 20 faculty members at New Haven the chance to take advantage of the resources at the makerspace and work with Bucknell peers, who have experience with hands-on experiential learning in the college environment.

The proposal was developed by New Haven's Maria-Isabel Carnasciali, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and chair of the Department of Engineering and Applied Science Education. Carnasciali also runs the makerspace at the university. She co-developed the proposal with Margot Vigeant, a professor of chemical engineering and faculty coordinator for B-FAB (the Bucknell Fabrication Workshop), and J.R. Logan, the executive director for MakeHaven.

"I am thrilled to receive the GREAT grant," Carnasciali said in a statement. "Not only will it enable us to go beyond just informing the faculty about the resources and the equipment in our new university makerspace, it is a stepping stone towards promoting faculty implementation of educational practices based on hands-on, authentic, project-based learning."

She noted that attending the Remaking Education event allowed her to better understand her role as director of the campus makerspace. "We must re-envision how we educate students, but we must also re-envision how we onboard faculty." Carnasciali added that data collected from the grant-supported activities will be used in engineering education research.

Two additional projects received smaller grants. One recipient was the Lewisburg Children's Museum, located in central Pennsylvania and serving an economically diverse rural audience. The museum will apply the funds to hosting fabrication workshops that introduce children, teachers and caregivers to fabrication equipment. The Foundry Consortium, a Cambridge, MA, nonprofit that explores the connections between STEM and the arts, received funding to survey city residents about their interests in becoming engaged in community programming.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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