My Role – Observations, Interviews, Quantitative and Qualitative Research
The NYU MakerSpace is a place for students to collaborate and innovate. To ensure our MakerSpace serves its purpose to our community, we devoted 400 hours of on-site research and literature reviews. This report consists of qualitative and quantitative data collected from September to November 2017. To collect qualitative data, over 35 sessions of in-person observations, 20 sessions of long and short interviews, and 4 design interventions were conducted during this time.
For quantitative data, the swiping machine record in the space and a heat map that consists of space occupancy were analyzed. In addition to the quantitative data we gathered, an end-of-semester survey and workshop feedback survey were made to collect future data. The finding through all the data collected is to serve as the foundation for ongoing and future projects that will enhance our students’ experience in the MakerSpace — which ultimately encourage a more innovative and collaborative community.
Kinds of things people were making
We interviewed 20 people who were making things in the space. We carried out a research to map the process, motivation, reason, of why people were making these projects. An example of these projects and the process we followed was –
We spoke to Jonas, the person who started this project. The project has been running for 1.5 years. We are the Farmers, is a project that focuses that focuses on sustainable methods of farming and vertical farming. We mapped the process of Jonas built his team, how the entire team functions, how do they seek mentors, help and resources to run this project.
One of the things for this research was – recording Jonas’s process in a diary over 15 days, we found out –
- Jonas was at Makerspace spent on 6 days at Makerspace, each day he was there for 8-10 hours between 12pm to 10pm. Mostly he was making something or meeting people.
- Out of 15 days Jonas researched for over 8 days, most of his research was alone at home or else where.
- In this duration he met two mentors in the space and his team met for 5 times. The other place he was meeting his team was at his home.
Based on our qualitative and quantitative research, we found that people are driven to make by different purposes. While MakerSpace is built to provide a space for collaboration and innovation, there is a good number of people working individually.
To encourage more group collaborations, we believe that we need to create a community that is purpose-driven rather than machine-driven. As of now, most of the workshops and events focus on skill-building which often targets a niche group of students. In order to expand the community base, various short-term and long-term projects can be implemented to further understand students’ needs and interests; thus, creating a more purposeful making environment.