In August 2013, the Admissions Office added a Maker Portfolio supplement to the undergraduate application. Many colleges and universities, including MIT, have long offered applicants the opportunity to share their talents in the admissions application in domains such as music, art, and sports. But few, if any, colleges and universities have created instruments and processes to identify and evaluate technical creativity and skill with comparable rigor.
The Maker Portfolio was designed to address this gap by allowing applicants to submit a supplemental portfolio of technically creative work. Each portfolio is reviewed at least once by a member of the Engineering Advisory Board, a body constituted by members of the faculty, instructional staff, and distinguished alumni with specific expertise and experience in particular modes of “making.” These evaluations are added to the applicant’s folder for consideration in the admissions process. While submitting a Maker Portfolio is neither necessary nor sufficient for an aspiring applicant, an outstanding Maker Portfolio can provide a compelling reason to admit an otherwise qualified candidate to the Institute.
In many respects, the Maker Portfolio has been a resounding success. Over the last two years, more than 2000 students have used it to show us the things they make, from surfboards to solar cells, code to cosplay, prosthetics to particle accelerators. We believe the Maker Portfolio has improved our assessment of these applicants and offers us a competitive advantage over our peers who have not developed the processes to identify and evaluate this kind of talent. After the preliminary success we’ve seen at MIT, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has recommended, in its “Nation of Makers” report, that more universities consider implementing a Maker Portfolio in their admissions process.
One persistent challenge to the Maker Portfolio, however, is the fact that women submit them at a much lower rate than men do, and at a much lower rate than they submit other portfolios and apply to MIT overall, as depicted on the chart …
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