Maker Culture: Class Syllabus, Examples, References, Materials - Spring 2015
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.

DTC 338, Spring 2015: “Maker Culture: Design at the Intersection of Material and Digital Practice”

This course is an undergraduate-level hands-on introduction to Maker Culture. It is a makers’ workshop, a design lab, and a creative-programming studio, intended to provide a supporting framework for students’ research and development as they build ambitious projects of their own design.  This class will generate a shared research dialogue and space within which to pursue creative work that is conceptual and technical, and it is preeminently a place for students to ask questions, seek guidance and exchange ideas.  Course meetings will consist of a combination of roundtable discussions, reflective writing, group “critiques,” 5-minute presentations, design thinking exercises, and focused topic-and-tool-specific workshops.

Course Information

  • Travis Feldman, travis.feldman at gmail dot com
  • VMMC 211A, Fridays 11:30-12:30 and by appointment

Class website

Class Wiki

Class Google Group

Required Materials

  • Arduino or RedBoard
  • Regular and reliable access to the internet, email, and a computer for completing assignments.
  • Notebook or journal for in-class sketches, drawing, and response; also, pen or pencil.


To satisfy requirements of this course, students are expected to complete the following:

* RESPONSE PAPERS: Wiki/classlist short written reflections or responses on topics of interest
* WEEKLY WORKSHOP CHALLENGES: In-class design and building challenges
* TWO PRESENTATIONS: Medium/Slideshare/Prezi/Tumblr/Wordpress post and in-class quick presentation on select projects or concepts of “Maker Culture”
* TWO PROTOTYPES: Designing, documenting and building your own Maker Projects (Robot/Microcontroller, Wearable/IoT, 3D Printed/Digitally Fabricated)
* FINAL PROJECT: Creating a full “Instructables”-like How-To Demonstration for your own original Maker Project

Requirements and Assessment

Grades will be based on the following:

* Roundtable Class Discussions and Class Participation (20%)
* Response Papers (10%)
* Presentations (10%), including Medium/Slideshare/Prezi/Tumblr/Wordpress post 
* Prototypes (20%)
* Final Project (40%), Instructable or How-To Demonstration including Iterations and Prototypes, Product Narrative, Bill of Materials (BOM) Assessment, Design for Manufacture (DFM), Proof of Concept Model 

Additionally, satisfying the requirements of this class means:

* All reading/video/audio assignments completed on time and as assigned.
* You are required to participate in the daily activities of our class — because we are learning in “workshop” mode, your presence in class, on time, every meeting is crucial.
* Independent research projects should be completed with originality and an effort made to share learning with the rest of the class.
* Students are expected to push themselves utilizing what is learned and what is already known in ways that are new, useful, and interesting to themselves, the class, and to the world.

Course Schedule (may change as we go!)

Week 1: January 16 -- Workshop#1, Robot Invasion!

Course Intro and Expectations

  • Go over syllabus, discuss overview of class
  • What is the Maker Movement?
  • What is ‘Modular'?

Notes, Key Terms, Examples

  • Maker
  • Culture
  • Play
  • Education
  • Knowledge
  • "creativity"
  • "originality"
  • "Consumers" vs. "Makers"
  • Makerspace
  • Hackerspace
  • Hack
  • Citizen Scientist
  • Autodidact
  • DIY or Do-It-Together
  • Extruder


Homework for Next Class


Week 2: January 23 -- Workshop#2: Arduino + GitHub = Hello World!

Physical Electronics

  • Is our understanding of ‘Making’ new, or is it the same old making we've had?
  • What is ‘Design Thinking’?
  • What's beyond QWERTY and a 'mouse'? "Interactive"?

Notes, Key Terms, Examples


Homework for Next Class

Week 3: January 30 –- Workshop#3: Into the Void, Void the Warranty!

Presentations Group A

* Alan McGinnis - echolocation
* Cody Moncur - Brew PI, ph sensor kit
* Keely Bitton - nightlight project
* Stephen Schmeling - 3D printing ecosystem
* Justin Williams - using brushless DC motors for generating electricity
* Rosemary Nielson - 3D printing prosthetics

Notes, Key Terms, Examples





DIY Electronics Events


Upload photos and details in a short step-by-step write-up of how you did a circuit bend or break out: keep in mind DETAILS matter and will be of significant interest to everyone, so please show-and-tell your circuit bend in all of its developmental stages. Also, you might want to search around for other circuit bends -- you might find that someone else has done some incredible things with the toy or instrument that you are working on, and if nothing else, seeing more circuit bends will give you new things to consider while creating your own.

Week 4: February 6 – Workshop#4: Back to Arduino & Programming Response, Resistance is Futile!

Our second Arduino workshop will be a challenge to find interesting ways of integrating buttons, switches, potentiometers, and photo sensors into our projects -- get ready, we're launching into the world of designing physical interfaces, embedded programs and interactivity!

Presentations Group B

* Frankie - AT-Tiny for line-tracking vibrobots
* Taran - exploring LEDs
* Sean - what making means to me (cosplay, DIY music, movie production) 
* Nicolaos - recent trends in crowdfunding

Notes, Key Terms, Examples



  • Write and post your own Arduino or Processing sketch, describe either in comments or in a separate txt file (1) what you started with, (2) what you experienced, (3) what you changed, (4) what you experienced after changes were made, (5) what you ended up with, and (6) what you think this project might lead to for you or others (what ELSE could be done with this?).

Week 5: February 13 – Workshop#5A: Programming Response, Viva la Resistance!

Today we come back to Arduinos, building upon what we have already done. We have made blinky LEDs, integrated buttons and potentiometers, and now let's see if we make devices that perform multiple functions from multiple inputs. Bonus points for connecting more than one Arduino board in your project!

N.B. In addition to our regular activities in the next two classes, we will make time to work on or address questions concering your first Prototype assignment, which is due in class on February 27.

Presentations Group C

* Amanda - materials for construction (Worbla)
* Suhaily - Tetris shirt and other wearable projects
* Jewell - new uses for 3D printing in the field of medicine (skull)

Notes, Key Terms, Examples



  • Prototype#1 Project Proposal. STEP ONE: Meet and discuss your project plans with Josie; take your time considering the problems or issues you expect your project may involve. STEP TWO: Email to the Class Google Group a full project proposal for your Prototype, with a title, description of function or operations, bill of materials, and problems or issues you expect to encounter. Also, you might include any sketches, diagrams, schematics, code / sample code, videos or photos that have helped your thinking develop on this. This proposal is meant to be an opportunity to collect your ideas on the project, so please brainstorm a bit, work to find an original way of stating the "problem" your project is addressing or solving, and start thinking about possible refinements or iterative variants you'll be exploring. Include the following in the email subject line: "Prototype#1 Proposal: [Title and your name]" -- Due before class on February 20.
  • Also, schedule a meeting with Josie to discuss the proposal.
  • WATCH Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams - we will discuss this in class on Feb 20.

Week 6: February 20 – Workshop#5B: Programming Response, ‘I, Robot’!

Today's workshop will focus on creating an autonomous device. Let's see if we can build something with our Arduinos that operates on its own. Is it "deciding" to do things? Is it "behaving" in its own way? Do our independently operating Arduinos drift into dreams of electric sheep?

Presentations Group D

* Yuriy - 3D printing
* Cole - augmented reality for firearms (precision guided firearms)

Notes, Key Terms, Examples

  • Autonomy
  • Algorithm
  • Machine Learning
  • Current
  • Voltage
  • Stepper motor



  • Finish Prototype#1


Week 7: February 27 – Show-and-Tell, Demo Day!

  • Prototype#1 Due with documentation posted to GitHub and/or class Google Group.
  • In-class demonstrations, group review and feedback


  • Finish and post your Prototype#1 documentation. Bring in a fully functioning version if you have not already.

Week 8: March 6 – Workshop#6: Breadboarding a CMOS Synth with an CD4093 Quad NAND Gate

Today we will use our breadboards to build a sound generator from an IC, a CD4093 Quad NAND Gate, with another IC for the amplifier, the LM386. This is a classic DIY electronics project from which many creative variants have been made by circuit heads and synth builders. The idea is to start with a simple version of a noise-maker and then experiement with different capacitor and resistor values, trying out your own configurations to create your own instrument! In addition to momentary buttons (switches) and turn knobs (potentiometers) that we have worked with before, we'll also have two physical sensors that will allow for non-conventional control over your synth creations: photocells and pressure sensors.

Notes, Key Terms, Examples



  • Create your own synth from the CD4093 IC and/or your Arduino. Document your project with code, comments, and photos.

Week 9: March 13 – Workshop#7: Electronic Musical Instruments, Part II -- Soldering the permanent build!

Today we return to the LM386 and CD4093 ICs that we worked with last week, only this time we will solder the circuits we design into permenant forms.

Notes, Key Terms, Examples

  • lead-free and lead solder
  • flux
  • protoboard / perfboard
  • capacitor
  • resistor
  • transistor
  • momentary switch
  • capacitive touch


  • Begin work on Prototype#2 [Working Model of Final Project], Elevator Pitch due in class on April 13.
  • Collect two or more stuffed animals that you can take apart and repurpose in our next Workshop after Spring Break.

Spring Break - No Classes March 20!

Week 10: March 27 – Workshop#8: FrankenAnimals!

Today we enter the fuzzy, plushy, wonderful world of making our own interactive stuffed animals. Bring at least two stuffed critters that you would like to combine into your own Arduino-enhanced Frankenanimal creation. It would be great if we could share some of the parts and pieces among projects -- be prepared to get inventive!

Notes, Key Terms, Examples

  • e-textiles
  • wearables
  • materials (of design)
  • methods (of design)
  • connectors
  • personality / character / feel


Materials & Design Ponoko's top ten materials list Inventables materials Tap Plastics, Acrylics Wiki list of fabric names How To choose material for DIY plush toy


Finish FrankenAnimal creature and post your project's documentation (plans, iterations, build experience, materials, and outcomes with photos and detailed narrative) to the classlist.

Week 11: April 3 – Workshop#9: FrankenAnimals Part II: Digital Creatures

Today we move our FrankenAnimal projects into the world of 3D models and 3D printing. We will start with examples of simple shapes and forms in Sketchup, and end by altering STL files and creating new STL files of our own.

Class Presentations - FrankenAnimals as a model of rapid prototyping

Notes, Key Terms, Examples

  • workflow
  • plane
  • point
  • edge
  • healing (surfaces)
  • STL
  • G-Code
  • Mesh
  • x- y- and z-axes


Homework this week: Continue playing with Sketchup and work on your Prototype#2 and Final Project

Week 12: April 10 — Workshop#10: 3D Printing & Open Workshop for Final Projects

3D Printing Lab

  • Work in four groups to design and complete a unique 3D printed figure.


  • Submit your STL and G-Code files of your 3D project to the classlist -- we will have Greg print them during the week.
  • For next class: email to the classlist a Google Slides proposal for your Final Project (mock-up images or photos, BOM, detailed description)
  • watch Fibonacci Zoetrope Sculptures

Week 13: April 17 – Prototype#2 A Working Model of Your Final Project: Pitch Day!

Today we will focus on the concept and goal of your final project -- everyone presents a lightning-flash version of their project with two main goals: (1) to refine your idea and what is distinctive about it, and (2) to get feedback and "crowdsourced" or community response.

This is a day to make your "elevator pitch," and you will tell the story of your project, including answers to the following questions:

* what is the project?  
* who else will be interested in this project? 
* what do you think it will do? 
* what do you think will distinguish your version from other versions of this project? 
* what do you expect will be challenging about completing this project? 
* what strategies do you have to meet those challenges?  

Also, feel free to ask the class for feedback and help.

We will use the entire day for information gathering, so plan ahead, practice your elevator pitch, anticipate what you'd like to talk about and use this class time wisely!

Week 14: April 24 – Workshop#11: Design for Manufacturing: Putting it all together

Today we will create a bill of materials, work with online ordering, practice reaching out manufacturers, look at an Eagle-CAD electronic circuit design and submit it to an online PCB manufacturer -- all of this will give you an experience of how to move your project from your workshop into the world of manufacturing. We will also spend time finishing 3D prints, fine-tuning the electrical designs and code of your own final projects, and there will be time for questions. We will be working together in groups for part of the class, and there will be class time for working on your Final Project.

Notes, Key Terms, Examples

  • Digital Fabrication
  • Access to Manufacturing



  • Work on Final Project.

Week 15: May 1 – Final Project Workshop, building and code checking, final adjustments.

Class Presentations: Iterations and trials, What has changed in your project in the last three weeks?

Week 16: Finals Day: May 8, 2:00-4:00PM, DEMO DAY in our usual classroom

N.B.: Your Final Project Must Be Uploaded and Viewable Online (, Instructables, GitHub, our class Google Group, etc.) BEFORE Our Scheduled Final Exam Time. Attendance at the Exam Time is mandatory with the same importance as every other University Scheduled Final Exam Time. See Student Handbook for details.

Final Projects: mabelpinesweater_amanda watchgps_cole arduinoelvisbelt_rosemary lightboots_suhaily graduationcap_josie ledcrown_jewell stopgobikelights_jeremy intruderdetector_andrew jasperrpijoketeller_frankie keytar_keely_taran arduinobeatbox_sean rpi_cellphone_alan_stephen secretdoorknockdetector_tyler explorewsu_yuriy_nicolaos