EMAR 446: Digital Fabrication and Physical Computing - Fall 2022

Description Resources Schedule Grading Policies 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. Check back for most up to date information)

Week Topic
1a Intro and Overview Course Policies; Install Rhino; Sign up for Discord
1b Rhino 2D Drawing; Exercise: Stencil
2a Laser Cutter
2b Tab and slot
3a Laser to 3D: Stacked Contours
3b 3D Basics and Unrolling
4a Meshes and Contour Extraction
4b Work Time. Material Tests
5a Critique Project 1
5b 3D Printing
6a Prusa Hands-On
6b 3D Printing; 3d scanning and photogrammetry
7a Digitizing Objects
7b - Work Day -
8a 3D Scanning
8b 3D Scanning Part 2
9a - Fall Break -
9b - Work Day -
10a Making Things Move
10b Critique Project 2
11a Making Things Move II
11b Arduino Analog
12a Sensors
12b LED Outputs
13a Ultrasonic and DC Motor
13b Stepper Motor
14 One on One meetings, Thanksgiving
15 Final Project Work
16 Final Critiques; Open Studios
Finals Submit Final Documentation


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

Exercises We will have regular, weekly 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 due approximately every 5 weeks. 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.

Late work policy

An assignment may receive an F if a student does not participate in every phase of the development of the project and meet all deadlines for preliminary materials (proposals, drafts, etc.). Failure to submit any of the graded course assignments is grounds for failure in the course. If a final draft or project, plus required addenda, is not submitted in class on the date due, it will be considered late and will lose one letter grade for each day or part of a day past due (A to B, etc.). Assignments are due in hard copy and or via email/link (online assignment). You must submit your assignments directly to the instructor. Any late submissions must be approved by your faculty instructor well in advance of the due date.

Grading Scale

A+ = 97-100 | A = 93-97 | A- = 90-93
B+ = 87-90 | B = 83-87 | B- = 80-83
C+ = 77-80 | C = 73-77 | C- = 70-73
D+ = 67-70 | D = 63-67 | D- = 60-63
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.

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.


UNL Course Policies and Resources. Students are responsible for knowing the university policies and resources found on this page: https://go.unl.edu/coursepolicies

Academic Honesty Policy

While we will adhere to the UNL Academic Honesty Policy linked above, 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.


On-time attendance is required as well as work 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:


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.