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Industrial Design Professor Addresses ‘Maker Movement’


A Pennsylvania College of Technology professor of industrial and human factors design addressed the inspirational and innovative “maker movement” at the fall conference of the American Society for Engineering Education Middle Atlantic Section held recently at Bucknell University.

Thomas E. Ask presented a paper titled “Filling the Gap: Philosophical Foundations of the Maker Movement,” exploring scientific philosophies and radical approaches to design nurtured by the modern maker movement, a creative exchange of self-made objects.

Thomas E. Ask
Thomas E. Ask

“The maker movement promotes experimentation and whimsy,” Ask said. “It equally embraces old and new materials and technology in pursuing the maker’s vision of the completed object.”

Ask’s paper also offered an overview of some projects created by Penn College’s Society of Inventors and Mad Scientists, for which he serves as adviser.

“My students have made kite-propelled boats, hovercrafts, exotic linkage mechanisms and many whimsical marvels. To promote building, we have conducted group activities such as scratch-built rockets and boat races,” he said. “The students enjoy the camaraderie, and the building time offers a diversion from the common phone/computer screen-centered activities.”

Ask is among faculty and students featured in “Dream & Do,” the first episode of the new “Working Class” documentary series, produced by Penn College and WVIA Public Media. Exploring careers related to the field of design, “Dream & Do” is slated for broadcast in January.

The “Working Class” series was inspired by the success of the Telly Award-winning documentary “Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-on Education” produced in conjunction with Penn College’s centennial.

Ask and three industrial and human factors design students who redesigned a product for General Electric Co. are featured in the Winter 2015 issue of One College Avenue magazine.

Ask has taught at Penn College for 14 years. He is a licensed professional engineer with a doctorate in industrial design.

Penn College’s industrial and human factors design major, is an interdisciplinary study of design that prepares students to become designers of marketable products and systems.

To learn more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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