Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Informatics 490 – Makerspace

Formerly ARTS 499 Makerspace. Meets on Monday/Tuesday 4-6pm at the Fab Lab. The instructor of record is Jeff Ginger ( Office hours are by appointment, arranged via email or in person.

An Incomplete List of Take-Homes

We’d like to give you an idea of some of the “resume-worthy” skills you should be able to walk away with from this course. Throughout it expect to:

  • Develop an understanding of the principles and processes behind rapid prototyping
  • Employ a variety of tools and techniques as an introduction to digital fabrication
  • Hack together and implement tools, ideas and proposals for a workshop
  • Critique, test and report on real world examples of makerspace curriculum
  • Practice multiple styles of expression for different real-world contexts
  • Learn about issues of digital literacy, community-based art education, informatics and the design of makerspaces from an interdisciplinary perspective
  • Gain familiarity with open source and proprietary software
  • Help us continue to cultivate and sustain relationships with Fab Lab community partners

Assistant Instructors

Colten Jackson –
Jessica Nelson –
Gabriel Ewing –
Sara Paige Hoag –
Judy Lee –
Holly Brown –
Duncan Baird –
Jaiyin (Kay) Lu –
Andrew Knight –


Assignment 0 – Sharing and Documentation

Over the course of the semester I would like you share and document your experience as a maker. You will need to do each of the following:

(1) Log in to your WordPress account and attach a picture (due 09.22!) and short description of yourself.

(2) Choose one:

  • Make a post on the Fab Lab Facebook page showcasing a photo or two of some of your work. Ask for feedback or help, as appropriate, and respond to comments (i.e. have a short conversation).
  • Find an article (academic, website, newspaper) on the Maker movement or a related digital fabrication technology and write a blog or Facebook post about it. Include a short description and link to the original article, and explain why you think it’s interesting. Include one question that the article inspired you to ask.
  • Document a project that turned out to be a failure. Explain what you tried, show pictures, and provide some ideas for what you might do better next time. Post about it on the blog.

You will need to finish this by the end of the semester, but you can do it with any combination of assignments.

Assignment 1 – Reading Response

Readings on concepts. Finish reading them by the lecture-discussion session on August 31st. Come to class with 2 questions or quotes from the readings that you’d like to discuss!

  1. Ken Robinson – How Schools Kill Creativity (video)
  2. Makerspaces and Teaching Artists (Barniskis 2013)
  3. The 10 Faces of Innovation, chapter 1 (Kelley 2005)
  4. Henry Jenkins – Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (executive summary, just pages 2-4)
  5. Wikipedia Summaries

Based on what you learned from readings and in the class discussion write a 2 page analysis. Employ a simple and identifiable thesis or guiding inquiry and connect concepts from at least 2 of the readings above. Please do not just summarize the readings, instead you should see them as if they are in conversation with one another. What questions to they yield when considered together? I am looking for analysis and critical thinking. This write-up will be due Tuesday September 8th.

Assignment 2 – Electronic Cutters

  • Initial Griffin sticker, using Inkscape tracing method
  • Multi-layer sticker from internet image using Photoshop or the Silhouette library
  • Make a multi-layer griffin sticker – requires at least 3 layers

Due 09.28. Turn in either via assignment 0 OR email me photos.

Assignment 3 – Laser Engraver

  • Simple name tag, based on a business card design you found online
  • Press-fit object, using a generator (the Fab Lab (windows download or any other) OR rubber/acrylic/wood stamp
  • Fab Lab press-fit box generator is available for Windows or OSX and requires 64-bit java.

Due 09.29. Turn in either via assignment 0 OR email me photos.

Assignment 4 – E-Textiles

  • Iron-on patch – actually make sure you use the iron-on adhesive
  • Embroider your own clothing

Due 10.13. Turn in either via assignment 0 OR email me photos.

Assignment 5 – Iterative Design

An important element in rapid fabrication and prototyping is that you can fail quickly and restart a project from prior work to make it better with less effort and cost. Select one of the projects that you did for assignments 2-4 that you would like to improve. This might be a project with errors or one that you felt was a neat idea you’d like to continue working with. Document your project with a one page report, answering:

  1. What was the problem or inspiration driving your desire to improve your selected creation?
  2. Showcase your alterations with a before and after photo, side-by-side
  3. Reflect on your process – what did you learn at each stage of the process? What would be your next steps?

Due 10.16. Turn in your report, with photos embedded in it, via email or through assignment 0.

Assignment 6 – Continue the Conversation

I’d like you to continue thinking through the Makerspace concepts we explored in the beginning of the semester, now that you’ve had a chance to wade a little deeper into the class. Add a page or two to your original reading response that does one (or more) of these things:

  • Have a friend read your original write-up, respond to their questions/ideas
  • Try to begin answering a question I posed, or that you posed in your original write-up
  • Find a new source that helps you to explore these ideas further, explain why it’s interesting
  • Take a critical angle – how would you measure these things? Is the “movement” not as it’s purported?
  • Work with your original statements – find more ways to link them to the readings

Due 10.27. Turn in via email or in-person.

Assignment 7 – 3D Methodologies

Make a 3D model and then print it, with each of the following:
  • Interesting/fun position Kinect scan (solo)
  • Agisoft object scan (work in a group of 3)
  • Create a set of eating utensils/accessories in Sculptriss and TinkerCAD (work in a group of 3, each person makes one component)

Due 11.02 via email or assignment 0.

Assignment 8 – Small Electronics

  • Dancing/mobile 2-servo Pom-Pom robot
  • Soldered blinky badge

Due 11.20 via email or assignment 0.

Assignment 9 – Composite

Presentation on December 8th in class, final report due December 18th via email.

Assignment 10 – Workshop

Emergent Schedule

Week 1 (8/24-25)

Monday – Tour of the Fab Lab
Tuesday – Course overview, Makerspaces introduction, Storyboarding and Paper Prototyping

Week 2 (8/31-9/1)

Monday – Finish Storyboarding and Paper Prototyping
Tuesday – Discussion of Readings, Assignment 1 – Reading Response

Week 3 (9/8)

Monday – Labor Day
Tuesday – Introduction to Inkscape to make Griffin stickers, intro to Silhouette Studio

Week 4 (9/14-15)

Monday – Photoshop and Silhouette Library for multi-layer stickers, Assignment 2
Tuesday – Guest instructor because Jeff is out of town 😮 – laser name tag and open studio time

Week 5 (9/21-22)

Monday – Ask about last week, confirm WordPress accounts, Silhouette nodes demo, explain multi-layer griffin sticker, press-fit intro, stamp methods introduction, open studio time
Tuesday – Open studio time

Week 6 (9/28-29)

Monday – Digital embroidery to make iron-on patches
Tuesday – Embroider some kind of clothing

Week 7 (10/5-6)

Monday – Sharing activity, review iron-on adhesive, open lab work time
Tuesday – Visit Business Makerlab for tour and 3D printing

Week 8 (10/12-13)

Monday – Overview of FDM 3D printers, fun Kinect scan
Tuesday – TinkerCAD, Sculptriss, open lab

Week 9 (10/19-20)

Monday – Agisoft, mid-semester feedback, open lab
Tuesday – Photogrammetry, more on AGIsoft methodology, 123D Catch, UP! Mini 3D printer operation, open lab

Week 10 (10/26-27)

Monday – Showcase day! TAZ 3D printer operation, open lab
Tuesday – Continue showcase, Pom Pom robots – 2 servos

Week 11 (11/2-3)

Monday – Present 3D printed eating accessories
Tuesday – Begin solar panel project

Week 12 (11/9-10)

Monday – Continue solar panel project
Tuesday – Continue solar panel project

Week 13 (11/16-17)

Monday – Groups for workshops (determine best dates), reminder about Assignment 0, continue solar panel project
Tuesday – Workshop planning/tutorial work, use templates, continue solar panel project

Week 14 (11/30-12/1) and Week 15 (12/7-8)

Workshop planning and execution, finish solar panel project