E.Louise Larson

digiTOOL

Teaching rapid fabrication at Carnegie Mellon University

for CMU’s IDeATe program

 
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Duration
8 weeks • Offered quarterly

Roles
Adjunct Instructor • Curriculum Designer • Researcher • CAD Drafter • CNC Operator

Techniques + Tools
Fusion360 • CO2 Laser • FDM 3D Printers

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Outcome

A regularly offered course that explores laser cutting and
3D printing through a hands-on, interdisciplinary lens.

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Goals

  1. Solve a problem with tools

  2. Make something useful

  3. Think critically about making and maker culture

 
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Pedagogy

 

digiTOOL is a basic fabrication course. My personal teaching goals, however, include an understanding of maker culture and the development of a personal process. Students are exposed to the following:

 
 
 

Fabrication


Taught as the CAD>CAM>CNC workflow, students learn fabrication through 3D printing and laser cutting.

 

Planning


Students must plan their own projects to design and build. This includes a cardboard prototype and project plan.

 
 

Articulation


All students are required to document their work for this course. Final portfolios showcase their process and outcome.

 

Culture


The primary course reading is Walter Benjamin’s Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Students discuss why we makes things and for whom.

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Course Structure

digiTOOL is a mini course offered in Carnegie Mellon University’s IDeATe department. In this course I teach an introduction to the fundamental concepts, processes, and procedures for laser cutting, 3D printing, and CAD modeling. Open to all majors, my classes are taught in CMU's IDeATe interdisciplinary program. These courses take an integrative approach to design, art, and technology.

 
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Portfolios

Students in digiTOOL are expected to develop an ability to articulate the story (visually, orally, verbally, aurally …) of their own work and learning. They showcase this ability through the development of a process document portfolio piece. These process documents include intention, research, inspiration, sketches, renderings, and final product photographs. Examples of student work from my classes can be found below.

 
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