For my first semester’s volunteer work, I have dedicated my time to the George Washington Innovation Center (GWIC). This space is truly unique, as it is the first physical space on campus that is focused on bringing students from various disciplines to work on interdisciplinary, hands-on projects. GWIC provides an environment for creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. This maker space allows for students to have access to tools they wouldn’t otherwise have, tools like laser cutters and 3D printers. GWIC fosters an environment of creativity through hands-on learning and interacting with peers from other disciplines. The center offers ‘Make-a-thing’ events where they open their workspace to the public to tinker with the various tools they have on hand. This center caught my eye due to the interdisciplinary nature of the work done. SEAS, Corcoran and GSEHD students congregate here to work on unique projects. With my own interdisciplinary background in sociology and data science, I was intrigued by GWIC’s mission and have committed to assisting them this semester.
Through my first meeting with staff at GWIC, there was a clear need for data management of their student lists. Their initial need was to better their data collection methods. GWIC came to fruition about two years ago, so their goal has been to foster a community within their workspace. They wanted to have a better understanding of the students who participate in their events and wanted to improve their database of student, faculty, and partner contacts. Having an organized system of their contact list would help them with gaining insight into what students repeatedly participated in events, which departments bring in the most students, and why students come to the center in the first place. They also had a desire to quantify traditionally qualitative data, which I am interested in learning about as the semester goes on. All of this could potentially lead us to improve recruitment and outreach to students. Name ID of GWIC is low, considering they are so new and they are often confused with the GW Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Through my results with the fall 2019 student data, GWIC is hoping to better target students through events and outreach.
To start, I read through GWIC’s impact report to get a thorough understanding of the strides the center is making to better interdisciplinary education on campus. From this, I learned that GWIC has two key components that make up its offerings: classes and events. Social impact curriculum courses taught at SEAS and other schools help foster an innovation mindset. GWIC is also hoping to possibly make this a minor or a major. A large part of GWIC’s mission is promoting design thinking through hands-on making workshops. These workshops are used to bring new or current GWIC students to tinker with new ideas and tools. The ultimate goal for these events is for students to develop their work into social impact projects. These projects engage the broader GW community, engaging with internal and external partnerships for resources and expertise. There is so much potential in the work GWIC does for its students and hopefully through helping them manage their data I can help in their quest to quantify and answer questions they may have. So far, I have drafted several questions to keep in mind throughout the semester as I manage their data.
- How many students attended Make-a-things this year? What is the average number of student attendance?
- How many students engage with the innovation center through social impact projects?
- Of those engaged students, what are their majors/research area of interest?
- Is there a significant difference between students who come in as underclassmen vs upperclassmen?
- How many students are consistently engaged with the center (once a month)?
- What impacts the students more, curriculum development or social impact projects?
- How do we categorize engagement? Participation in events?
Human-Technology CRT, Year 1