Radford Takes Part in White House National Week of Making

The success of Radford University’s Makers and Innovators community earned the school a spot at the Make School Alliance Meeting, hosted by the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The meeting, which took place June 21 at the Executive Office Building in Washington, brought together industry leaders, agency representatives and educators to discuss how access to making and innovation benefit K-12 and higher education students.

Charley Cosmato, director of Radford's Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, and Jeanne Mekolichick, assistant provost for Academic Programs, participated in breakout discussions at the meeting.

"One of the key ideas behind the maker movement in education is allowing learners to explore their own creativity and create solutions to personally relevant problems," Cosmato said. "Students learn to ask 'How can I make this work, figure this out, build this thing, solve this problem or overcome this challenge?'"

The symposium was only one event in the busy National Week of Making, which brought together schools and organizations from around the country to encourage partnership and growth in the Maker movement.

Radford University was specifically lauded in a Make School Alliance news release about RU Makers and by the White House for its commitments to making and to K-12 education. Radford was featured for its creation of the first cohort of freshman in RU Makers, a residential campus living-learning community.

The development of the learning community is part of a larger push to encourage faculty and students to seek and create transformational undergraduate educational experiences within and beyond the classroom.

"Making offers an avenue to engage a broader population of students in project-based learning," said Jeanne Mekolichick, assistant provost of Academic Programs. “Beyond the individual student benefits, Making engages with the community and can have positive economic impacts on the region.”

Since the Maker movement’s arrival on campus, faculty and students have partnered with public schools in the region, allowing young learners to gain experience in fields, such as robotics, filmmaking and 3D printing and design.

These partnerships fulfill Radford University’s mission as a member of the Make School Alliance.

Radford joins 47 other colleges and universities - such as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Yale, Penn State and the University of Michigan - which are recognized nationally for a commitment to making and innovation and support of a generation of Americans who make.

The opportunity to get on the same page with similar institutions during the National Week of Making was a boon for Radford, according to Cosmato.

"As a result of our participation, Radford University is situated as a regional hub for the Make School Alliance," he said.

Radford University’s Maker initiatives are tied to the High Impact Practices (HIPs) grouping of academic programs. Developed in 2014, HIPs supports and promotes experiential learning in and out of the classroom. In the HIPs programs, dedicated and passionate faculty expose students to "doing" their disciplines, connecting them with the world and assisting in their growth as engaged citizens.

Jun 29, 2016