Women in Engineering: 3D Printing Interests, Habits, and Persistence

Conference Paper

Makerspaces are increasingly merging with academics in undergraduate engineering programs. At Duke University, engineering students are introduced to prototyping in makerspaces in their first-year engineering design course. In later engineering coursework, they are required to use makerspace tools. 3D printers are one tool used by students for prototyping and visualizing, and they can also aid in developing spatial visualization skills, especially when students design and print objects they've designed using a CAD software tool. Printing can inspire students in extracurricular endeavors, and they are a useful tool to creatively explore new ideas for further development. This research is a first step in exploring how students are using 3D printing both in- and outside of required coursework, along with the barriers felt by students in their use of this tool. The goal is to gain insight into 3D printing habits and motivations of engineering undergraduates. Of particular interest is determining any differences between genders in this area, and, if so, what barriers and motivations exist and differ between gender groups. There are two parts of this study: an online survey and an interview. Engineering undergraduates are recruited for participation, and questions are designed to gage students' 3D printing experience, frequency, and habits, including the intended use of printed items. Students are also asked to identify their response to printing failures, along with their use of in-person and online resources for troubleshooting. Student demographics are also recorded. In interviews, participants are asked in detail about each item in their online print history. Survey results are paired with in-person interview responses. Research results will inform future work in addressing barriers that affect students, including 3D printing training, makerspace recommendations, initiatives to promote inclusion, and changes to already existing outreach events designed to support students in building confidence, interest, and self-efficacy in technical skills.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tannebaum, A; Santillan, ST; Simmons, R

Published Date

  • July 26, 2021

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2153-5965

Citation Source

  • Scopus