Carnegie Mellon University

IDeATe

Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Portal Courses

16-223 Introduction to Physical Computing

Physical computing refers to the design and construction of physical systems that use a mix of software and hardware to sense and respond to the surrounding world. Such systems blend digital and physical processes into toys and gadgets, kinetic sculpture, functional sensing and assessment tools, mobile instruments, interactive wearables, and more. This is a project-based course that deals with all aspects of conceiving, designing and developing projects with physical computing: the application, the artifact, the computer-aided design environment, and the physical prototyping facilities. The course is organized around a series of practical hands-on exercises which introduce the fundamentals of circuits, embedded programming, sensor signal processing, simple mechanisms, actuation, and time-based behavior. The key objective is gaining an intuitive understanding of how information and energy move between the physical, electronic, and computational domains to create a desired behavior. The exercises provide building blocks for collaborative projects which utilize the essential skills and challenge students to not only consider how to make things, but also for whom we design, and why the making is worthwhile.

This course is an IDeATe Portal Course for entry into either of the IDeATe Intelligent Environments or Physical Computing programs. CFA/DC/TSB students can enroll under 16-223; CIT/MCS/SCS students can enroll in the 60-223 version of the course. Please note that there will be a materials fee associated with this course.

Upon completion of this course the students will be able to:

  • work in a mixed physical-digital environment and laboratory
  • make effective use of standard hardware and software tools for physical computing
  • approach complex physical computing problems with a systematic overview that integrates iterative research and design steps
  • generate systems specifications from a perceived needpartition functionality between hardware and software
  • produce interface specifications for a system composed of numerous subsystems
  • use computer-aided development tools for design, fabrication and testing and debugging evaluate the system in the context of an end user application or experience.

Fall 2017 instructor: Garth Zeglin

Program: Intelligent Environments Physical Computing

Offered by: Robotics Institute

18-090 Twisted Signals: Multimedia Processing for the Arts

This course presents an overview on manipulating and synthesizing sound, video, and control signals. Signals are the raw materials used in many forms of electronic art and design - electronic music, interactive art, video art, kinetic sculpture, and more. In these fields, signals are used to represent information about sound, images, sensors, and movement. By transforming and manipulating these types of signals, we are able to create powerful new tools for digital art, multimedia applications, music, responsive environments, video and sound installation, smart products, and beyond. In this course we will study Signal Processing from a practical point-of-view, developing tools that can be easily integrated into art-making using the graphical programming environment Max (a.k.a. Max/MSP/Jitter). We will present a survey of Signal Processing techniques used in the sonic and visual arts, and will discuss the mathematical theories underlying these techniques. Students will be encouraged to combine, modify, and extend working examples of software to create original digital artworks.

Fall 2017 instructor: Jesse Stiles

Program: Intelligent Environments Sound Design

Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering

60-223 Introduction to Physical Computing

Physical computing refers to the design and construction of physical systems that use a mix of software and hardware to sense and respond to the surrounding world. Such systems blend digital and physical processes into toys and gadgets, kinetic sculpture, functional sensing and assessment tools, mobile instruments, interactive wearables, and more. This is a project-based course that deals with all aspects of conceiving, designing and developing projects with physical computing: the application, the artifact, the computer-aided design environment, and the physical prototyping facilities. The course is organized around a series of practical hands-on exercises which introduce the fundamentals of circuits, embedded programming, sensor signal processing, simple mechanisms, actuation, and time-based behavior. The key objective is gaining an intuitive understanding of how information and energy move between the physical, electronic, and computational domains to create a desired behavior. The exercises provide building blocks for collaborative projects which utilize the essential skills and challenge students to not only consider how to make things, but also for whom we design, and why the making is worthwhile.

This course is an IDeATe Portal Course for entry into either of the IDeATe Intelligent Environments or Physical Computing programs. CFA/DC/TSB students can enroll under 16-223; CIT/MCS/SCS students can enroll in the 60-223 version of the course. Please note that there will be a materials fee associated with this course.

Upon completion of this course the students will be able to:

  • work in a mixed physical-digital environment and laboratory
  • make effective use of standard hardware and software tools for physical computing
  • approach complex physical computing problems with a systematic overview that integrates iterative research and design steps
  • generate systems specifications from a perceived needpartition functionality between hardware and software
  • produce interface specifications for a system composed of numerous subsystems
  • use computer-aided development tools for design, fabrication and testing and debugging evaluate the system in the context of an end user application or experience.

Fall 2017 instructor: Jet Townsend

Program: Intelligent Environments Physical Computing

Offered by: Art

Collaborative and Supportive Courses

16-456/48-558 Advanced Topics in Reality Computing: The Adaptive Home

The Adaptive House is the focus of an advanced design studio based around the collaborative development of reality computing applications within a residential prototype. Reality computing encompasses a constellation of technologies focused around capturing reality (laser scanning, photogrammetry), working with spatial data (CAD, physical modeling, simulation), and using data to interact with and influence the physical world (augmented/virtual reality, projector systems, 3d printing, robotics). This studio will use reality computing to understand existing homes, define modes of augmentation, and influence the design of houses yet to be built through full scale prototyping. The objective of the course will be the production of a house that moves beyond the notion of being "smart," but is actively adapted towards its inhabitants' needs and capabilities. Topics of special focus within the course are residential design (John Folan), augmented reality and robotics (Pyry Matikainen), and indoor flying robots (Manuela Veloso and Nina Barbuto). This course is presented with the support and cooperation of Autodesk, Inc. (Please note that there may be lab/materials fees associated with this course.)

Fall 2016 instructors: Pyry Matikainen, John Folan

Fall 2015 course website: www.rc16456.com

Programs: Intelligent Environments, Media Design, Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

49-313 Designing for the Internet of Things

Thermostats, locks, power sockets, and lights are all being imbued with "smarts" making them increasingly aware and responsive to their environment and users. This course will chart the emergence of the now "connected world" to explore the possibilities for future products and connected spaces. This introductory, hands-on course invites students to creating connected products without any knowledge of programming, electronics or systems. Students will be introduced to interactive connected technologies through a series of hands on exercises, collaborative projects, in depth discussions, and instructor led tutorials. Topics explored will include awareness, real time sensing and communication, embedded intelligence, and designing experiences for the internet of things. By the end of this course, students will be familiar with the core skills, the considerations involved and design process required to build a connected system. Students will also apply this learning in collaborative groups to realize a prototype-connected product. This course is intended for MII-PS students; all other students by permission of the instructor.

Spring 2017 instructor: Eric Brockmeyer

Programs: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Intelligent Environments

Offered by: Integrated Innovation Institute

62-315 Ecologics: Computational Techniques for Shaping the Built Environment

Ecology posits that all entities within a given system have thermodynamic relationships to each other and are bound together in complex exchanges of energy and information: an ecosystem. This seminar seeks to translate this dynamic exchange into a computational framework directly influencing design processes. Students will be introduced to computational design thinking, using contemporary parametric modeling as a method for incorporation of environmental data into systemic dynamic behavior and feedback loops. The objective is to speculate about performative architectural, or urban systems, the morphology of which, are informed through design protocols that incorporate environmental data and simulation. We will engage design processes in which the metrics of the systems performance underpin creative exploration of organization and form. This exploration results in the design and prototype of a specific morphological component system. Students will be introduced to digital parametric tools and immersed in contemporary digital fabrication processes, such as: 3d-printing, cnc-milling, mold casting, etc.

Program: Intelligent Environments

Offered by: College of Fine Arts

16-455/48-530 Human-Machine Virtuosity

Human dexterous skill embodies a wealth of physical understanding which complements computer-based design and machine fabrication. This project-oriented course explores the duality between hand and machine through the practical development of innovative design and fabrication systems. These systems fluidly combine the expressivity and intuition of physical tools with the scalability and precision of the digital realm. Students will develop novel hybrid design and production workflows combining analog and digital processes to support the design and fabrication of their chosen projects. Specific skills covered include 3D scanning, 3D modeling (CAD), 3D printing (additive manufacturing), computer based sensing, and human-robot interaction design. Areas of interest include architecture, art, and product design.

Spring 2015 instructors: Garth Zeglin and Joshua Bard

Spring 2015 course website: Human-Machine Virtuosity

Program: Intelligent Environments Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

16-867 Human-Robot Interaction

This course focuses on the emerging field of human-robot interaction, bringing together research and application of methodology from robotics, human factors, human-computer interaction, interaction design, cognitive psychology, education and other fields to enable robots to have more natural and more rewarding interactions with humans throughout their spheres of functioning. This course is a combination of state-of-art reading and discussions, focused team exercises and problem-solving sessions in human-robot interaction, and a special team project resulting in the implementation of a human-robot interaction system for specific applications.

Fall 2015 instructor: Illah Nourbakhsh

Program: Intelligent Environments

Offered by: Robotics Institute

12-750 Infrastructure Management

This course takes a broad view of infrastructure systems to include physical infrastructure and information networks. The course will consider the need to protect these critical infrastructures from both degradation as well as malicious attacks. Infrastructure management generally depends on public-private partnerships to ensure long-term viability. We will look at relevant academic literature on the topics of infrastructure needs and requirements. We will explore the use of automated sensing and computer network systems to facilitate management.

Spring 2015 instructors: Donald Coffelt and Chris Hendrickson

Program: Intelligent Environments

Offered by: Civil and Environmental Engineering

16-371/54-371 Personalized Responsive Environments

Launching Fall 2015. Environmental factors have a significant impact on mood and productivity. Creating responsive environments necessitates the design of surroundings that are able to metamorphose in order to optimize user strengths and available resources and evolve in stride with user needs.

This course will investigate the development of spaces that adapt to user preferences, moods, and task specific demands. Both the design and engineering of such personalized environments will be explored. Central course concepts will include, understanding the user, integrating various modalities (e.g., light, heat, sound) to support the changing needs of task and user, and the creation of adaptive environments that learn user preferences over time.

Fall 2015 instructors: Reid Simmons and Anne Mundell

Program: Intelligent Environments

Offered by: Drama, Robotics Institute

18-540 Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems

This is a project-oriented course which will deal with all four aspects of project development; the application, the artifact, the computer-aided design environment, and the physical prototyping facilities. The class, in conjunction with the instructors, will develop specifications for a mobile computer to assist in inspection and maintenance. The application will be partitioned between human computer interaction, electronics, industrial design, mechanical, and software components. The class will be divided into groups to specify, design, and implement the various subsystems. The goal is to produce a working hardware/software prototype of the system and to evaluate the user acceptability of the system. We will also monitor our progress in the design process by capturing our design escapes (errors) with the Orthogonal Defect Classification (ODC). Upon completion of this course the student will be able to: generate systems specifications from a perceived need; partition functionality between hardware and software; produce interface specifications for a system composed of numerous subsystems; use computer-aided design tools; fabricate, integrate, and debug a hardware/software system; and evaluate the system in the context of an end user application. Senior standing is required.

Spring 2015 instructors: Daniel Siewiorek and Asim Smailagic

Program: Intelligent Environments Physical Computing

Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering

48-734 Reactive Spaces and Media Architecture

How can embedded computation change the way we experience our surroundings? What is the value of creating dynamic spaces? This class will focus on the design and prototyping of reactive spaces. Over the course of several small projects and one large final project, students will learn where, when and how to embed computationally-driven experiences into the built environment. Students will be required to design, render and build experiences and interactions for specific locations and with specific intentions. By the end of the course students should expect to know how to use sensor and API data to manipulate an environment through light, sound and motion output. Previous experience with programming, electronics or fabrication is encouraged, but not required. However, students are expected to learn these skills on their own with minimal in-class instruction.

Fall 2017 instructor: Jake Marsico

Program: Intelligent Environments Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture

16-457/48-559 Reality Computing II

Launching Spring 2016. Course description coming soon.

Spring 2016 instructor: Pyry Matikainen

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

48-528 Responsive Mobile Environments

Embedded, connected and mobile computing combine to create powerful platforms for sensing human behavior and personalizing experiences in situated spaces. Creating intelligent, meaningful, and opportune feedback to provide serendipitous support for the people and activities within these spaces still remains an important problem. Students will seek creative solutions to this challenge in this hands-on introduction to real-time interactive environments. The course will introduce foundational theories, methods and techniques that range across the aesthetic, the human-centered and the technical. Students will apply this knowledge by working in teams to collaborative prototype an responsive environment which adapts in real-time to activities within it. In these teams, students will work across disciplines to integrate technical and aesthetic frameworks for sensing, analysis and feedback of human activity in intelligent and augmented spaces.

Spring 2017 instructor: Daragh Byrne

Program: Intelligent Environments Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture

16-375/54-375 Robotics for Creative Practice

This project-oriented course brings art and engineering together into making machines which are surprisingly animate. Students will iterate their concepts through several prototypes focused on using embodied behavior as a creative medium for storytelling, performance, and human interaction. This year we will work with human-scale machines constructed using CNC-cut plywood and pneumatic actuation, culminating in a group performance. Students will learn skills for developing and programming performance behaviors, designing expressive kinetic systems, and rapidly prototyping simple robots. Technical topics include systems thinking, dynamic physical and computational behavior, autonomy, and embedded programming. Discussion topics include both contemporary kinetic sculpture and robotics research. Interested students without the specific prerequisites should contact the instructor.

Fall 2016 instructor: Garth Zeglin

Fall 2016 course website: Robotics for Creative Practice

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: Drama, Robotics Institute

76-285 Team Communication

This mini will introduce you to research and theory on how to create effective teams. In it, you will learn: - leadership strategies for managing projects and getting everyone to contribute to their best capacity - interpersonal skills for negotiating team conflict - communication strategies for working with individuals from very different professional and cultural backgrounds. - techniques for fostering trust and inspiring team innovation and creativity - how to use technology to manage teams that are geographically separated Professor Joanna Wolfe has been studying student and professional technical teams for fifteen years and is the author of multiple books and award-winning articles on team communication. This course will be hands-on with assigned readings and video cases that are discussed in class with plenty of opportunities to role-play different communication strategies and techniques.

Program: Animation & Special Effects Game Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship Intelligent Environments Learning Media Media Design Physical Computing Sound Design

Offered by: English

Archived Courses

48-777 A Starter Kit for Participatory Culture Incubators

Offered in Fall 2014. In this studio course we explored physical design solutions to "pods" of physical space to serve as starter kits that encourage the proliferation of Participatory Culture in tangible ways. Work was done in teams, individually, and in a collaborative interdisciplinary setting.

One of these Participatory Culture pods was to be located in Oakland on Craig and Forbes near the Museum. These pods would be designed to accommodate:

  • Play – how to create environments to experiment within problem solving environments
  • Improvisation – how to provide contexts within which alternative realities can be simulated
  • AR / VR apps – how to create facilities to support real-world simulations
  • Cognitive playground – how to expand cognitive capabilities through innovative tools
  • Conference of ideas – how to use various sizes of human groups to support environments, networking, and idea dissemination
  • Usability support – how to support all of this with administration and staffBuilding support – how to support all of this with mechanical and infrastructure systems

The objective of this studio was to make apparent through the making of architecture: ephemeral products of social media, virtual entities, participants' minds, affiliations, expressions, collaborations, participation gaps, transparency, and participatory ethics of a society that is integral with the cloud.

The deliverable in this course was a book that contained the foundations of the course, consultant essays, student work, and a synopsis of the discoveries and proposals developed throughout the semester - all finalized in 8.5 x 11 or 11 x 17 format. For more information, go to BlackBoard and check out the courses 48-400, 48-500, or 48-777. Weekly activities included lectures, board crits, and pin-ups. Mid-term and final reviews were held as public "design reviews."

Fall 2014 instructor: Omer Akin

Programs: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Intelligent Environments

Offered by: Architecture

60-441 Urban Intervention

This course introduces students to theories, practices, and communities for critical investigation of urban spaces and play within them.  

The course unfolds along two parallel trajectories: research (literature review, lectures, readings, demonstrations) and design (three iterated individualized projects and a fourth larger scale final project).  The first half of the course will introduce students to a wide range of theories and techniques within urban intervention that draw from fluxus, the situationist international, activism and hacktivism, as well as public policy, philosophy, psychology and economics.  Students will study theoretical and practical frameworks for artistic intervention into public urban spaces, while concurrently researching actual sites and communities within Pittsburgh for experimentation.  Students are required to conceptualized projects on larger (urban) scales, and find ways to implement their projects safely and legally by pursuing the necessary administrative, social, technical, financial steps required to create meaningful interventions in public spaces.  

This class will specifically explore three media for urban intervention:  

  • Sound
  • Outdoor video projection
  • Robotics, Autonomy and Mobility in the way of remote control vehicles (e.g. cars, quad-copters, etc.).

For each theme, students are required to produce one project that is iterated twice or more.

The undergraduate (60441) and graduate (60741) sections of the course meet concurrently and follow the same syllabus and assignments.  In addition to the coursework documented in the syllabus, Graduate level students are expected to write a research paper suitable for submission to a notable relevant academic conference. This process includes a rough draft, revisions and a completed and formatted paper ready for submission.

Spring 2015 instructor: Ali Momeni

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design

Offered by: Art