• Susan Finger <>
  • Office: Porter Hall 123B
  • Office hours: Whenever my door is open or by appointment (send e-mail)

When and where

  • Section A TR 3:00-4:30, Hunt Library A5


  • 9.0

Catalogue Description

Introduction to rapid design through virtual and physical prototyping. The class will cover the design process, problem solving methods, interdisciplinary team work, current industrial practice, and manufacturing process capabilities. The course emphasizes hands on learning.

Overview and Goals
Students in this course will have the opportunity to explore and evaluate our rapid and virtual prototyping services in the context of collaborative design. These rapid manufacturing technologies include lasercutting and 3D printing. This course will:

  • expose students to the roles of virtual and rapid prototyping for reducing design cycle times and promoting a concurrent engineering approach.
  • expose students to using rapid and virtual prototyping as a way to communicate design ideas.
  • provide students with a design experience in which they create interactive exhibits to help children learn the basic principles of engineering.

Warning: This course uses experimental software and experimental manufacturing facilities. This course is different each time it is offered. This course should not be taken by students who cannot deal with uncertainty, ambiguity or surprises.

Students in this course must complete three projects. The first project is a short, individual project focusing on the conceptual design of a toy that engages children in learning some physical principle. The second project involves learning about different rapid manufacturing processes and is a group project. The final project, which will take the second half of the semester, is a group project that involves designing, building and testing an engaging engineering activity for children.

Each project require a brief presentation and a report in the form of an wordpress document. The final project requires a poster, a final report and a more formal group presentation.


               Class work 10%
               Project 1 10%
               Project 2 10%
               Project 3
Final Design 20%
Final Presentation 10%
               Class participation 20%
               Portfolio 20%

Projects 2 and 3 are group projects.

Pedagogical Goals

“We learn from the mistakes we make while gaining experience; we gain experience from experimentation; we learn through our conversations in speech, movement, sketches, and text; and we build our knowledge through conversation, experimentation, and reflection. The student design experiences should not be only about the success of the final product, but about learning to experiment, fail, converse, share, reflect, and create. Learning these skills may require unlearning some of the skills acquired in a standard undergraduate engineering education in which sharing and failing are discouraged and in which the skills of conversing and reflecting are often considered unimportant.

We need to instill these ideas in our students, so they do not proceed on the premise that they simply need to get the job done. The most important aspect of the student design experience is the practice of reflection, a practice many of us bypass because of time constraints. Within a university setting, we work in a reduced form with a more manageable environment in which we can take the time to teach our students the skills they need.

Within our design process, we include activities to help students learn to work in teams, to explore the dynamics of the team and to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and roles and responsibilities of individuals and groups within the project team.”

Excerpt from “Reflections on a Concurrent Design Methodology: A Case Study in Wearable Computer Design,” Finger, S., Stivoric, J.,Amon, C. H., Gursoz, L., Prinz, F. B., Siewiorek, D. P., Smailagic, A. and Weiss, L. E., Computer-Aided Design , 1996, pp 393-404.