Things to Think With: Introduction to Modelling and Printing 3D Objects (Spring 2014)

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Course Description

The ways we perceive the everyday, physical world are increasingly influenced by digital programmability and computation. For instance, 3D objects can now be downloaded from sites like Thingiverse and then fabricated at home, in plastic. Elsewhere, museums are generating 3D models of their collections and publishing them online. And of course, speculation about the social, cultural, and political implications of 3D printing routinely appears in the news.

Intended for undergraduates interested in the intersections between humanities research and emerging technologies, this course not only introduces students to modelling, preserving, and manufacturing objects in 3D. It also prompts them to consider questions such as: How do 3D techniques enable fresh approaches to material history and culture? How can we re-imagine research and scholarship through the production of objects? How might 3D prototyping, design, and experimentation play more significant roles in the humanities? How is 3D printing changing our understanding of intellectual property and authenticity? And how can personalized manufacturing actually reduce waste?

You will learn how to 3D-model physical objects, print those objects, render them discoverable online, and represent them through a variety of media. You will also create narratives for your objects, providing historical, ethical, and social contexts for them. In so doing, you will develop fluencies in documenting your research—your methods, findings and surprises.

There is no textbook or materials fee for this course. The instructor will provide all readings, and learning will occur across workshops and lectures. While access to modelling and fabrication equipment will be provided, access to a laptop/desktop computer will be required. All software will be free, and most of it will be open source.

Technical competencies required: know how to send an email.

Required Texts

There is no textbook for this course. All readings, workshops, and related media are provided in class or via the course site. All software is free, and most of it is open source. Access to a computer is required for this course. Please note that access is not synonymous with ownership.