Courses Overview



Instructors: Chris Csikszentmihályi, James Auger, Victor Azevedo, Vitor Aguiar

Prototype™ is a two week introduction to making things. It is meant as a crash course (sometimes literally) in shop and laboratory skills, from cutting wood to welding metal, etching circuits to using machine tools. No prior experience is necessary (though we will ask prospective students to fill out a long form describing their previous experiences so that we can adjust assignments accordingly).

In the academic fields that make things -- science, engineering, design, and art -- being able to turn an idea into a thing is a critical skill, allowing the proof of a hypothesis, demonstration of a finding, or embodiment of an idea. Building the world can be a way of knowing, not only proving, and even a way of choosing how to live. Experimental physicists design 27km long machines to detect something that weighs .0000000000000002kg, while artist Yayoi Kusama designs patterned environments where she can camouflage herself, and designer Jae Rhim Lee builds mushroom suits to safely compost corpses. All these diverse activities rely on surprisingly similar processes of material manipulation that have deep roots in human culture -- a dense and varied set of histories -- but are at the same time immediate and a source of pleasure and satisfaction (or drudgery and exploitation) to many people.  

The Prototype™ class will introduce students to the practical process of designing and building both "looks-like" and "works-like" prototypes and research equipment. Terms such as shear, tolerance, successive approximation, durometer, mortise and tenon, FeCl3, and NURB will become clear (if they aren't already), and students will gain exposure to most of the tools in the Critical Technical Practice shop. While most students will not come out of the class able to make anything well, they will almost be able to make anything, and well on their way to knowing how.


Week 1:

Measuring, Analog to Digital

Strength and Other Material Properties, Loading, Statics, Dynamics

Cutting, Joining, Gluing, Welding

Drilling, Tapping, Fastening, Machining

3D & Design for Manufacture


Week 2:

Sewing, Fiber, Casting

IO, sensing, actuation, ICs and electricity

Circuit design and soldering

Conclusion, 24 hour project

Final presentations 

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