Instructor: David A. Mellis: PhD student, High-Low Tech, MIT Media Lab (
Faculty Sponsor: Leah Buechley: Assistant Professor, High-Low Tech, MIT Media Lab

Marcelo Coelho: PhD student, Fluid Interfaces, MIT Media Lab
Mark Feldmeier: Research Affiliate, Responsive Environments, MIT Media Lab
Nan-Wei Gong: PhD student, Responsive Environments, MIT Media Lab
Dimitris Papanikolaou: DDes student, Graduate School of Design, Harvard
Nadya Peek: PhD student, Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT
Amit Zoran: PhD student, Responsive Environment, MIT Media Lab

Time: Thursdays 1-4 pm, E14-493
Credit: H-level 12 units (0-12-0)

This class explores alternative and small-scale (e.g. tens or hundreds) manufacturing processes through the hands-on design and prototyping of electronic devices. Following a studio format, students develop a product over the course of a semester, working individually or in small groups. (Students should enter the class with some idea for what they’d like to make.) The course investigates the aesthetic and practical possibilities of digital fabrication and other small-scale production processes like laser-cutting, 3D printing, and circuit board fabrication. Consideration is given to material selection, form and interaction, assembly, and distribution. Students develop multiple prototypes throughout the semester, iterating and refining their design. The studio work is complemented by lectures and readings on design and manufacturing as well as guest talks on product design and production. Students are expected to document their work online throughout the semester.

The class does not provide extensive instruction in individual CAD tools, computer programming, or general electronics. Students should have a background in one of these areas and are expected to develop the others independently, as necessary for their projects.

Enrollment is limited to ~12 students (to be selected based on a survey following the first class).

Students are expected to complete weekly, hands-on assignments as part of their overall semester project. These will focus on various aspects of the product design and development, including the electronics, form, and fabrication methods. Students are expected to upload documentation of each week’s projects to the course website in advance of each class meeting.

The first half of the semester focuses on creating a working prototype integrating electronics and fabricated (e.g. laser-cut) parts. The second half of the semester asks students to refine their product design and functionality while also considering possibilities for its production, assembly, and distribution. Ideally, by the end of the semester, each group will have produced not only an attractive, functional product but also put together a plan for making and selling more of them.

Class Structure
The first half of each class will be a review and critique of student work from the past week’s assignments. These sessions will be an integral part of developing the projects over the course of the semester and enabling students to learn from each other. The lectures listed on the schedule will occupy the second half of the class time.

30% individual assignments
20% mid-term critique
40% final critique
10% participation & documentation