5:15 PM–8:05 PM
Broad Art Center: FabLab

Professor: (office hours: TBD)


In this introductory course on electronics and physical computing for the arts, each participant will build an understanding of electricity, circuit design, mechanisms, sensors, actuators, micro-controller programming, custom interface design, and integrating electronics with software.

Working with electronics opens new ways to connect the virtual and physical—from ephemeral representations on screens and networks to bodies in space and time. Through workshops, readings, lectures, critiques, and discussions, we will reevaluate the role desktop computers (and their mice, trackpads, keyboards, screens, and gamepads) play in forming our understanding of what is technically possible, sensible, logical, foolish, magical, and intuitive.

Experimentation is required to gain familiarity with creating and planning computational works. This technical and conceptual exploration will involve class critiques, readings, and discussion.


You must attend class, participate in discussions, and complete all assignments.

Grading is based on the workshop exercises, and on active participation during the class meetings and reading discussions. The work is evaluated on how well it demonstrates an understanding of the material, its originality, as well as its conceptual and aesthetic qualities. Feedback will be primarily qualitative but letter grades will be given for all work.

Participation & Attendance

Punctuality, focus, articulation of concepts, and contribution to class discussions are all part of class participation.

Classes start at 5:15 PM. If you are 15 minutes late, you will receive a tardy. 3 tardies will turn into 1 absence. Every absence equals 1 full grade down (A to B), 3 unexcused absences result in a failing grade.

If there is an emergency and you will be late or absent from the class, please email me.

Commitment to Diversity and Plurality

We understand the classroom as a space for practicing freedom; where one may challenge psychic, social, and cultural borders and create meaningful artistic expressions. To do so we must acknowledge and embrace the different identities and backgrounds we inhabit. This means that we will use preferred pronouns, respect self-identifications, and be mindful of special needs. Disagreement is encouraged and supported, however our differences affect our conceptualization and experience of reality, and it is extremely important to remember that certain gender, race, sex, and class identities are more privileged while others are undermined and marginalized. Consequently, this makes some people feel more protected or vulnerable during debates and discussions. A collaborative effort between the students, TA, and instructor is needed to create a supportive learning environment. While everyone should feel free to experiment creatively and conceptually, if a class member points out that something you have said or shared with the group is offensive, avoid being defensive; instead approach the discussion as a valuable opportunity for us to grow and learn from one another. Alternatively if you feel that something said in discussion or included in a piece of work is harmful, you are encouraged to speak with the instructor or TA.

Recommended Reading

Required Materials

You need to get some type of microcontroller. If you just want something simple, and don't care about size too much I recommend the Arduino Leonardo If size is a concern, or you just want something "newer" I really like the Adafruit Feather line of products. The Adafruit Feather 32u4 Basic Proto is a good place to start. There are variations with Wifi, Bluetooth, built in data storage etc. If you want something really small (but also powerful!) i really like the Adafruit Trinket M0. Beyond this you absolutely will need:

Count Name Cost
2 Half-Sized Breadboard 5.00
1 Trimpot 10K with Knob 1.25
1 Momentary Pushbutton Switch Varied
1 Jumper Wires 4.95
1 Actuator (Motor, servo, stepper, solenoid, etc) of your choice. (Actuators at Sparkfun) -
1 Sensor of your choice. (Sensors at Sparkfun) -

Optional Materials

If you plan on doing a lot of work with a motors, I recommend getting a motor control board. The Adafruit DRV8871 DC Motor Driver Breakout Board is good. If you are using an Arduino and want to get something full-featured, I recommend the Adafruit Motor/Stepper/Servo Shield for Arduino v2 Kit. If you are using a feather there is the DC Motor + Stepper FeatherWing Add-on For All Feather Boards. Here some other good things to have around:

Count Name Cost
1 Neopixels! Varied
1 USB Cable
1 Wire Strippers 15.95
1 Parts Box (You can also find nice cheap boxes at Home Depot) 5.95