4.501
Creative Design Prototyping

Prerequisites: 
4.500 or permission of instructor (undergraduates)
Enrollment: 
Limited to 12
Required of: 
Undergraduates
Preference Given to: 
Course 4 majors and minors

This is a hands-on course that uses digital fabrication as a vehicle for teaching design process. Insight into design as an emerging field for makers comes from a specific type of start to finish physical system of production taught in this course. Weekly assignments build creative problem setting (design) and problem solving (also design) skills.

This semester our project focus, defined as Farm Fab, will be discovery, design and development of a 500 sq. ft. (45 sq. meters) structure that will house an indoor farm. It is a real project set for fabrication and display this coming summer (2015) as part of FAB 11; a fabrication conference sponsored by CBA. Our motivation is based on new evidence related to Indoor farming as an emerging topic that could impact the way we use think about food production. Through discussion, computing and making we will propose a new building type that will be formed for the built environment as well.

Design processing of a Farm Fab will be explored in three phases; Product Discovery, Design and Development:
Discovery of a building shaped by its purpose will direct initial class activities. This is done by analysis, documentation and critical review of existing indoor farms. We will hear from guest speakers and learn from readings, best practices need to design a productive indoor farm. We will create rules based on a list of design principles that will ultimately guide our design process.

Design models will be constructed as furniture size products. Creation and evaluation of physical prototypes one-quarter full scale will allow us to challenge the purpose of space and form. We will encode design rules into parametric objects as a way to build models of repeatable digitally fabricated objects. We will also teach innovative prototyping techniques that include 3D Printed operable components designed to support plant growth, plant harvesting and automated plant maintenance.

Development activities are full-scale fabrication of building sections as a way to explore crop growing inside in detail. We will build mockups as metal and wood constructs with CNC and robotic tools. We expect that critical reflection and review of full scale construction will lead to discover of new materials and embedded functions manufactured into building components.

The course deliverable will be a desktop model of a digitally fabricated enclosure as a kit of parts. The kit will include integrated pots and methods of planting. We expect to invent new systems for LED lighting, computer controlled irrigation and energy capture as the project progresses.

Who Should Enroll
This course is open to all majors and it works best for undergraduates interested in design and making at full scale. The course. We will not teach computer modeling students are expected to know how to create solid, mesh and parametric models. The course is a great way to learn making from start to finished product.

Learning Objectives
Students will master the following skills:
1. Learn about and experience a structured design workflow leading to full scale digital manufacturing
2. Improve presentation skills when describing physically large products with interior and exterior functions
3. Develop craft based skills in design computing with a variety of digitally fabrication machines
4. In depth learning of ways to create new materials at large scales