EMAR 391-007: Digital Fabrication and Physical Computing - Fall 2021

Description Schedule Resources Grading Policies Accomodations References

Image Clockwise from top left: Ken Rinaldo - Mediated Encounters; MIT Mediated Matter Group - Silk Pavillion; Morehshin Allahyari - Material Spectulation; Quayola - Carvings; David Bowen - Space Junk; James Loh - Amae Apparatus


This course introduces physical computing and digital fabrication for emerging media arts. We cover 3d scanning and photogrammetry; 3d modeling and computer aided design; rapid prototyping and digital fabrication; sensors, actuators, and embedded microcontrollers; creating workflows that move from analog to digital to analog. We explore these techniques through arts topics including wearable technologies, mechatronic automation, and approaches including Systems Art, Generative Art, Cybernetic Art and more. Class activities are contextualized through the history of emerging technology and media arts practice.


Course objectives

A student who successfully completes this course will:

Prequisites: Major in Emerging Media Arts and successful completion of EMAR161 Computational Media Studio II, or permission of instructor.


(Subject to Change-Always check back for most up to date information)

Date Topic
8/26 Week 1 - Introduction, Overview - Digital Fabrication and Physical Computing
  - Introductory Exercise / Stencil (ex1)
9/2 Week 2 - CAD, 3D Modeling; Designing 2D and 3D Form
  - Digital Double / Virtual Replica (ex2), Introduce Sketchbook
9/9 Week 3 - Laser Cutter; 2D Digifab
  - Flatpack Future (ex3)
9/16 Week 4 - Stacked Contours; Slices; 3D Forms; Mesh Editing
  - ~Stacked Construction (ex4)~
9/23 Week 5 - Capture Digital Form: Photogrammetry and 3d Scanning
  - Real World to Digital and Back (ex5)
9/30 Week 6 - 3DP session at Innovation Studio
  - Assign Project 1
10/7 Week 7 - Prusa; 3D Printing Time; Project 1 Discussion
  - DUE Project 1 Proposal
10/14 Week 8 - Microcontrollers and Digital I/O
  Meaningful Signal (ex8)
10/21 Week 9 - == FLYOVER COUNTRY==
  - In class work, FLYOVER COUNTRY AI Writers Room
10/28 Week 10 - Digital Input; Analog Input and Output
  - Project 1 Critique
11/4 Week 11 - Analog Input, Making Things Move: Servos and Actuators
  - Biomimicry exercise (ex11)
11/11 Week 12 - Sensors: Light, Temperature, Distance
  - Catch up time
11/18 Week 13 - Sensors and Serial Communication
  - “Even Thermostats Can Be Said to Have Feelings” (ex12), Assign Project 2
12/2 Week 15 - Actuators: DC Motors, Solenoids; Linkages and Mounts; Workshopping Final Presentations
  - Final Project Work Time
12/9 Week 16 - Final Critiques
  - Exhibition/Showcase Open Studios
  - All work due to Canvas for Grading (12/17)




Graded activities

Work will be evaluated on the quality of concept, the degree of experimentation (both aesthetic and technical), and final realization (again, aesthetic and technical). Prompts and rubrics will be provided with more specific details regarding each assignment and breakdowns

Description of Assignments and Exams

Weekly Exercises We will have regular, weekly programming assignments employing the tools and techniques covered in class. These will be short activities with clearly stated creative prompts and technical requirements. Projects will be graded on satisfactory completion with additional credit for creative, technical, expressive extension beyond requirements.

Projects We will have three projects over the semester with the following aims: Project 1 covers digital fabrication and analog and computer mediated processes. Project 2 covers physical computing, interactivity, and mechatronic/automated systems. Project 3 covers wearables and embodied technologies. For each project students will submit a project archive containing a statement of concept, source code, links to data resources, documentation of the work, discussion of results, and future directions. When assigned, students will submit a proposal/concept for their project to receive instructor feedback, and then work to complete the project. Projects will be presented and critiqued in class and project archives will be submitted for grading.

Participation Contributions to class discussions and active participation in small group work are essential to both the momentum of the course and the development of your ideas. This requires that you come to class prepared (having completed assigned reading and writing) and ready to participate in class activities. This course is based on collaborative, project-based learning and you are also expected to contribute as a responsible member of a group. See the participation evaluation in the Grading Scale below for more information.


On-time attendance is required as well as playtesting inside and outside of section. Please notify your instructor in advance if you must be absent for illness or family emergency. Any absences must be cleared with the instructor, or justified with written documentation (e.g. letter from team, etc.). We do not differentiate between mental and physical health and in either case please be in communication for when you need to take a day off. After a student misses a week’s worth of classes each subsequent missed class will result in the reduction of the final grade by a full letter grade (i.e., A to B, B- to C-) Excessive tardiness or leaving early will also impact your grade and will follow the same rubric.

Please also note the JCSTF attendance policy:

Late work policy

Students can submit one assignment (exercise or peer review) late without penalty. Any following late assignments will be docked 5% for each day they are late (if an assignment is two days late, the grade will be docked 10%).

Due to COVID-19 and current community health concerns, I will make exceptions for illness with documentation.

Grading Scale

| | | | | —- | —- | —- | | A+ = 97-100 | A = 93-96 | A- = 90-92 | | B+ = 87-89 | B = 83-86 | B- = 80-82 | | C+ = 77-79 | C = 73-76 | C- = 70-72 | | D+ = 67-69 | D = 63-66 | D- = 60-62 | | F =below 60% | | |

Here is a description of the kind of participation in the course that would earn you an A, B, C, etc. Your instructor may use pluses and minuses to reflect your participation more fairly, but this is a general description for each letter grade.

A – Excellent Excellent participation is marked by near-perfect attendance and rigorous preparation for class. You respond to questions and activities with enthusiasm and insight and you listen and respond thoughtfully to your peers. You submit rough drafts on time, and these drafts demonstrate a thorough engagement with the assignment. You respond creatively to the feedback you receive (from both your peers and instructors) on drafts, making significant changes to your writing between the first and final drafts that demonstrate ownership of your own writing process. Finally, you are an active contributor to the peer- review and collaborative writing/making processes.

B – Good Good participation is marked by near-perfect attendance and thorough preparation for discussion section. You respond to questions with specificity and make active contributions to creating a safe space for the exchange of ideas. You submit rough drafts on time, and these drafts demonstrate thorough engagement with the assignment. You respond effectively to the feedback you receive (from both your peers and instructor) on drafts, making changes to your work between the first and final drafts. You are a regular and reliable contributor to the peer-review and collaborative writing/making processes.

C – Satisfactory Satisfactory participation is marked by regular attendance and preparation for class. You respond to questions when prompted and participate in classroom activities, though you may sometimes be distracted. You are present, with few absences, and have done some of the reading some of the time. You submit drafts on time and make some efforts toward revision between the first and final drafts of an assignment. You are involved in peer-review activities, but you offer minimal feedback and you may not always contribute fully to the collaborative writing/making process.

D – Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory participation is marked by multiple absences from section and a consistent lack of preparation. You may regularly be distracted by materials/technology not directly related to class. You submit late or incomplete work and revise minimally or only at a surface level between drafts. You are absent for peer-review activities, offer unproductive feedback, or do not work cooperatively in collaborative environments.

F—Failing Failing participation is marked by excessive absences, a habitual lack of preparation, and failure to engage in the drafting, revision, and collaborative writing/making processes.

Academic Honesty Policy

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course. Any instances will result in an automatic grade of F in the course and possible disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct (https://studentconduct.unl.edu/student-code-conduct). For information on the University’s policy on academic dishonesty, please refer to the current Undergraduate Bulletin (https://registrar.unl.edu/academic-honesty).

We will use many open source projects to make our work. It is ok to use others’ code. However, you need to cite your sources, and you need to do transformative work/make it your own.


Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact their instructor for a confidential discussion of their individual needs for academic accommodation based on a current accommodation plan. It is the policy of the University to provide flexible and individualized accommodations to students with documented disabilities including those students with mental health disabilities such as depression and anxiety. To receive reasonable accommodation, students must be registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office, 117 Louise Pound Hall, 402-472-3787 V/TTY.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources

UNL offers a variety of options to students to aid them in dealing with stress and adversity. Counseling and Psychological & Services (CAPS) is a multidisciplinary team of psychologists and counselors that works collaboratively with Nebraska students to help them explore their feelings and thoughts and learn helpful ways to improve their mental, psychological and emotional well- being when issues arise. CAPS can be reached by calling 402-472-7450. Big Red Resilience & Well- Being provides one-on-one well-being coaching to any student who wants to enhance their well- being. Trained well-being coaches help students create and be grateful for positive experiences, practice resilience and self-compassion, and find support as they need it. BRRWB can be reached by calling 402-472-8770.

COVID-19 face covering policy

To protect the health and well-being of the University and wider community, UNL has implemented a policy requiring all people, including students, faculty, and staff, to wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose while on campus. The classroom is a community, and as a community, we seek to maintain the health and safety of all members by wearing face coverings when in the classroom. Failure to comply with this policy is interpreted as a disruption of the classroom and may be a violation of UNL’s Student Code of Conduct.

Individuals who have health or medical reasons for not wearing face coverings should work with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (for students) or the Office of Faculty/Staff Disability Services (for faculty and staff) to establish accommodations to address the health concern. Students who prefer not to wear a face covering should work with their advisor to arrange a fully online course schedule that does not require their presence on campus.

Students in the classroom:

  1. If a student is not properly wearing a face covering, the instructor will remind the student of the policy and ask them to comply with it.

  2. If the student will not comply with the face covering policy, the instructor will ask the student to leave the classroom, and the student may only return when they are properly wearing a face covering.

  3. If the student refuses to properly wear a face covering or leave the classroom, the instructor will dismiss the class and will report the student to Student Conduct & Community Standards for misconduct, where the student will be subject to disciplinary action.

Instructors in the classroom:

  1. If an instructor is not properly wearing a face covering, students will remind the instructor of the policy and ask them to comply with it.

  2. If an instructor will not properly wear a face covering, students may leave the classroom and should report the misconduct to the department chair or via the TIPS system for disciplinary action through faculty governance processes.

*Courses that have been granted an exception to the Face Covering Policy for pedagogical reasons are excluded. Exceptions to the Face Covering Policy are only granted after an approved health safety plan is developed

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge that the University of Nebraska is a land-grant institution with campuses and programs on the past, present, and future homelands of the Pawnee, Ponca, Oto-Missouria, Omaha, Dakota, Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Kaw Peoples, as well as the relocated Ho-Chunk, Iowa, and Sac and Fox Peoples. Please take a moment to consider the legacies of more than 150 years of displacement, violence, settlement, and survival that bring us together here today. This acknowledgement and the centering of Indigenous Peoples is a start as we move forward together for the next 150 years.