Design Templates for Education Made Easy by UMD Startup

Design Templates for Education Made Easy by UMD Startup

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A University of Maryland startup has created a web application that provides design templates for users ranging from high school students to professionals like engineers, fashion designers, and architects.

Users can access a large, personalized library of designs based on their needs and create and maintain an electronic portfolio of their work—all using an Engineering Design Process Portfolio Scoring Rubric (or EDPPSR).

CredentialED grew out of a group working on developing a potential model for an Advanced Placement (AP) course for engineering. The startup is now working on creating MyDesign, a web application that can enable students to work on their design projects, store and share them as an electronic portfolio.

Research Associate Professor Leigh Abts in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at UMD spearheaded the project and is now CEO of the startup.

He said that over the last ten years, he has been involved in a national effort to create a potential AP course for engineering. The team worked on developing an opportunity for students to get project-based learning experiences inside and outside classrooms.

“An advanced placement that included engineering might be of value to students and to the academic process as a whole,” he said.

The whole idea was to develop a simple way of making the design process cater to a wide audience, especially for high school students.

“Engineers use design, architects use design, fashion designers use it,” Abts pointed out. “Everything you do—when you cook, you design your meal. We use the design process for everything. That’s the idea of this web application.”

CredentialED’s MyDesign web-based app uses icons and other simple formats to convert rubric, and can be used on iPad or iPhone.

The MyDesign app offers various design templates. The first ‘alpha’ prototype for MyDesign, developed with the help of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), is now ready for initial testing.

“It’s a model that we are using to get user inputs,” said Abts. “As a person identifies interest in a particular design, our intent is to provide a personalized library of applications so they can produce the design as a sketch or on a 3D printer, or if they want to add it to their e-portfolio.”

The design projects are appropriate to a person’s level of education and interest.

The MyDesign app would allow users to makes use of Autodesk and Google Sketch apps to design their work and save it to a portfolio or send it to print.

One such portfolio is designed and maintained by Project Lead the Way or PLTW. The e-portfolio was also framed by the EDPPSR Rubric and is open to all users at www.innovationportal.org. The PLTW e-portfolio enables students to create and maintain electronic portfolios of their work. PLTW is in 4,000 high schools in the United States.

Innovationportal.org now has 29,000 users including students from seventh grade all the way to graduate school submitting their projects.

UMD, supported by members of the CredentialED team, has just received NSF funding to train teachers to use the Rubric, Innovation Portal and MyDesign in their classroom. In fact, public schools in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland are set to try it under a recently awarded NSF grant. UMD is already in a partnership with Morgan State University to help work with students and teachers.

“Teachers will be trained to work with children in the classroom on their design projects using MyDesign and upoload their projects into the InnovationPortal,” Abts said.

CredentialED worked with various entities at UMD, including the A. James Clark School of Engineering, which provided resources for them to hire engineering students who helped build the software prototype, icon concepts, and develop the look and feel of the app. They also worked with professional engineers supported by the NSF.

UMD’s College of Education worked to develop a professional development model to support and train teachers in school districts, Abts said. He said that UMD’s Office of Technology Commercialization has also been very helpful.

“Alla McCoy and her team at the Office of Technology Commercialization has helped us develop strategies on patents we need to file, to help us understand what the resources at the university are, to gain access to resources, and to put together proposals to apply for Maryland state support,” he said.

Abts hopes that in 12 to 18 months, CredentialED will have the data from prototype testing in schools across Maryland and other states. “Hopefully within five years, we will have several hundreds of thousands of users,” he said.

September 10, 2015


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