Physical Computing-Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology - Carnegie Mellon University

Physical Computing

Computing was once an occasion, an event. It happened in a dedicated space for a limited amount of time. Over the last few decades, the barriers between computing devices and their users have slowly dissolved. The physical world is becoming a key interface for computing and the internet of things is becoming the next generation of connectivity.

Students in the Physical Computing concentration will explore the technical, experiential, and semantic issues of this evolution. They will address the key components of physical computing; from the fabrication of the interface and the development of the circuitry to the integration of component elements within different contexts. The embedding contexts range from mobile to the build environment and new creative practice instruments. The concentration works in tandem with the Intelligent Environments concentration allowing students to combine courses across these two concentrations with the assistance of their advisors.


All students will take the Introduction to Physical Computing portal course. They will then be able to take three (or four, for a minor) relevant courses from the following lists, with at least one from the "New Courses" group. Students can also opt to take two (or three, for a minor) relevant courses from the following lists, with at least one from the "New Courses" group, plus one course from the Intelligent Environments offerings.

New Courses:

  • 48-xxx Collaborative Projects in Physical Computing - developer and instructor TBA, launching Spring 2016
  • 48-xxx Emodied Interfaces for Human-Machine Collaboration - developed and instructed by Ramesh Krishnamurti and Madeline Gannon, launching Fall 2015
  • 16/48-xxx Human-Machine Virtuosity - developed and instructed by Garth Zeglin and Josh Bard, launching Spring 2015
  • 16/54-xxx Robotics for Creative Practice - developed by Garth Zeglin and Anne Mundell, instructed by Garth Zeglin, launching Fall 2015

Existing Courses:

  • 60-439 Building Hybrid Instruments - offered by Art
  • 60-412 Interactive Art and Computational Design - offered by Art
  • 60-436 Digital Fabrication for the Arts - offered by Art
  • 15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies - offered by Computer Science
  • 18-540 Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems - offered by Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • 18-578 Mechatronic Design - offered by Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • 18-551 Digital Communication and Signal Processing Systems Design - offered by Electrical & Computer Engineering

Capstone Project Course

Students will also have the option of proposing a one-semester, interdisciplinary mentored project that needs to be approved by both their primary and IDeATe advisors.