Design Innovation for Distributed Energy

Design Innovation for Distributed Energy is an interdisciplinary course open to graduate students in MIT’s School of Architecture and MIT undergraduates in Material Sciences, Electrical Engineering, Computational Sciences (EECS) and Mechanical Engineering Departments. Organized as a ‘hands-on’ seminar/workshop that engages MIT’s credo of mens et mana, this course provides a unique inter-disciplinary design approach that explores the material properties, technical challenges and design opportunities of renewable energy materials that are being researched and developed in MIT laboratories.

In Fall 2012, the course will explore the identification and design of high impact applications for LOW POWER—and consider how small amounts of renewable energy--commensurate with the present capacities of emergent performance capacities of novel flexible organic, paper printed, foldable and inorganic solar materials--can offer significant new spatial, social and architectural applications in the built environment. Through readings and presentations, we’ll un-pack assumptions we’ve inherited from centralized mainstream electrification and identify the unique design possibilities of mobile, small sources of renewable power. Students will explore resilient and adaptable concepts include low power for environmental sensing and monitoring, and applications for powering the USB platform enabling a confluence of renewable low power and wireless connectivity—a soft infrastructure.

Over the course of the semester, students will work in interdisciplinary teams exploring low power in three design exercises at the scale of the body, building and territory. Students will work directly with solar materials, circuits and design fabrication techniques to create value propositions, and design working prototype applications for small, smart and swarmed sources of renewable energy. The course is sponsored by MITEI with funds to defray costs of students’ design prototypes. Design teams from previous years have won the MIT MADMech $10K award and promising prototype concepts from this class can be developed for MIT’s IDEAS competition. Presentations, discussions and design crits for this course will be provided by the Instructor with guest industrial designers, architects, engineers, and industry leaders as well as faculty and researchers from MIT’s Soft Semi-Conductor Group. Limited to 20.