Digital Making to be offered in Spring 2016


The pilot session in Spring 2015 was a great success and we are looking at passionate makers to come learn how to make #digitally for Spring 2016. Have a look around this website, where the makers shared what they are learned. Some of them have been in the news as well, such as Arielle Rausin and Nora Benson in the recent postmarks story, that went to over 50,000 students, and their families. Arielle went on to win a grant for a  3D printer for DRES and has taken her project forward into a potential new venture.

The next session in Spring 2016, will be on Mondays 2:00 to 4:50 pm, in BIF 3030. The CRN is 45166.  Applications are being accepted till 15th November. We can only accommodate twenty one students in the class. The syllabus and schedule from Spring 2015 will give you a good idea of what we will be doing but expect some exciting changes.

Apply by email to Vishal Sachdev at vishal AT illinois DOT edu with a resume and a  short statement of what kind of “making” skills you have, or what would you like to learn and why. If you have an portfolio of things you have made do send a link as well. We want to enroll a mix of majors from across all schools on campus. In Spring 2015, we had Gen. Engineering, Journalism, Finance, Design, Marketing and IS/IT majors.   Business majors are encouraged to apply, and IS/IT majors can use this course as one of the two Major Electives.


How This Semester Made Me Into a Maker

I remember when I first saw the Digital Making Seminar course flyer, I imagined this course would be radically different than courses I had taken in the past. Now that I am writing my semester’s reflection, I can safely say that this course greatly surpassed my expectations. I did not simply learn in this course; this course transformed the way that I think.

The Maker Movement and Learning to Become a Maker

When I first heard about the Maker Movement, I was fascinated because I have always had great interest in exploring ways that people can learn most optimally. Professor Kylie Peppler from Indiana University spoke to us at the beginning of the semester in great detail regarding the Maker Movement and I was inspired to truly understand what ‘making’ could mean in my own learning experience. This course gave me the opportunity to experience firsthand what it means to learn by making and how tangibly creating something can challenge your mind in ways that traditional teaching methods simply can’t. By getting to experience a workshop put on by Design for AmericaI saw just how significant this movement was and that I was sitting at the forefront of it. Not every student gets the change to take a course like this, so being able to witness testimonies from many guest speakers throughout the semester showed me just how significant this whole ‘making’ ordeal really is.

Moving forward, the importance of the Maker Movement and everything I’ve learned about making digitally has motivated me to be involved with this community and continue expanding my knowledge in the areas of disruptive making technology. I have most formally pursued this by taking on employment at the MakerLab! I began working here very recently and I could not be more excited to continue being immersed in a place where I’ve learned that creativity and innovation are the fuel to the continuing technological development of society.

Technology and All The Ways I Learned to Make

This semester, our class was exposed to a myriad of different tools and technologies that become our instruments for making. From our sessions at the Champaign Fab Lab to our field trip to the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology, I feel like I discovered so many different ways to create things that I did not even know existed. Some of my personal favorites were learning how to digitally embroider and create objects in Fusion 360I think what I enjoyed most about creating through these mediums was my ability to allow my thoughts to flow freely from one to the next. One of the biggest takeaways I have from learning how to tinker with things like arduinos and different softwares is that the digital making space is not a confining one. I am able to create something digitally and do 1 million+ things to it on a variety of different platforms. Digital making allows us to bring ideas to fruition in ways that were not possible before and simply because of that, I can see that this course brought me immense value.

LampMy patch!

One of the aspects that I loved about this course was also learning that the technologies we used can be leveraged for so many different uses, including ones that many people may never even have thought about. For example, I am involved in different religious communities and I was so pleased to find that I could leverage our digital making platforms to create things that I could use in the realm of my faith. A religious application is probably one of the last things people would think of when talking about things like 3D printers or digital embroidery, but the endless possibilities of digital making are what makes it so incredible! 

Digital Making is Whimsical, Unpredictable, and an Unending Exploration

I also have to note that while I intentionally made some pretty cool stuff, I also ended up accidentally creating things. I tried to print a grocery-bag hanger that was formulated from the base of a bolt and I also tried to print a digital scan of myself as a shot glass. Neither print accomplished the purposes of what I had for them individually, but together I created an interesting art piece! The grocery-bag-bolt-hanger spins in the hole I created in the digital scan of myself. This to me, represents the beauty of digital making: even when you think you’re done, you’re probably not! 

This course has taught me that a singular object can be viewed from multiple perspectives, which consequently derive multiple purposes for the object. I firmly believe that this is an important way of thinking that our generation needs to develop in order to become leaders within the global economy. By exploring concepts in something like Digital Making, we learn how to be empathetic, dynamic, and technically capable leaders capable of succeeding on any terrain. For this reason alone, I could not be more grateful to have taken this class and I am extremely excited for all the ways that my experiences in this class will enable me to help others see the value in creating digitally.

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Me in 3D

Smart Pillbox Prototype

A few weeks ago, I attended the CU Make-A-Thon. At the event, we were given the task of prototyping a solution for a problem faced by much of the senior community.

These are the categories provided:

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With my group, we decided to focus on the health tracking category. A large problem faced by many seniors is being reliable with taking their pills. Most people are very familiar with the basic pillbox prototype which includes seven slots, one for the pills of the week the senior must take. However, there are several problems that this prototype fails to address:

  • Many seniors simply forgetting to take their pills
  • Overdoses
  • Pills getting mixed up in slots


Because addressing all three of these issues required making skills outside of our current abilities, we focused on the first bullet point. During our class’ time at the Fab Lab, we had learned how to code some basic functions for Arduinos, including making some LED’s turn on and off. My group decided on using these skills we had learned to create a pillbox design that would light up when the user touched the correct pillbox slot to take their pills.

Expanding on this idea, we wanted to be able to use this information to connect to a wristband which would some how set off an alarm if the senior failed to take their designated pills at the correct time. However, we did not have the technology available to be able to fabricate this idea, so we focused on the light up pillbox first.

First Prototype

One of our members, Amanda, learned how to code with Arduinos very quickly, so she was able to use her knowledge of Arduinos to set up a pressure sensor. We 3D printed one slot of a pillbox that we found on Thingiverse to get an idea of how the prototype would work. When the user touched the pressure sensor to open the lid of the pillbox, the readings on the pressure sensor changed in accordance.

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Our first prototype was a good start, but it wasn’t perfect. We didn’t have the ability to use the information from the touch sensor have any real use to us without having it hooked up to the wristwatch alarm system which we had no idea of how to attempt.

During our class sessions after the Make-A-Thon, we decided to expand upon this basic prototype. Our group decided upon attempting a simpler design in which an LED would switch off when all the pills were taken out of a slot in the pillbox in order to remind seniors to refill the box. Amanda did all of her coding magic and with that we were able to create the final prototype.


Although I played a part in the brainstorming of this project, I was not able to play a huge role in the making of our prototype because of my very limited knowledge using Arduinos. What makes a great team is everyone utilizing their abilities to add to the team effort. With extensive knowledge using Prezi, I decided to create a visually interactive presentation for our project in order to share with others the making process.

Here is a visual representation of our prototyping process:


Learning Pathways Final Project: Our Learning Becomes Yours

Our semester project revolved around creating Learning Pathways in Digital Making. While most projects focused on the “Make” aspect of the MakerLab credo, we decided to focus on the other aspects of learning and sharing.

Our project objective was to create a variety of learning pathways consisting of content segmented by interests & needs. These modules would in turn be available to a wide range of audiences via an online platform, currently Instructure. We hope that our project will be used in the future to enable the MakerLab to be not just a printing resource for Illinois Students, but to become an education leader in the digital making space.


3D Printing

The 3D printing subject pathway will introduce the fundamental concepts of 3D printing. This module will focus on helping others understand the process of 3D printing, the various materials that are available to print with, as well as the different printers being used around the world. Additionally, this module will uniquely contain content dedicated to exploring how 3D printing is changing the business environment. Rather than keeping this business environment content as a separate module, this content will be beneficial to a wide range of individuals who may work in different industries.

3D Scanning

3D Scanning will expose readers to the idea of turning physical objects into the digital space and back again into the physical space. This module will focus on describing various commercial scanners and uses as well as delve into ways that the average person can dip their toes into the 3D scanning space through free apps and fun projects.

3D Design

The 3D Design module will explore all of the different aspects of digitally creating objects and modeling techniques. The content within this area will pertain to the different making softwares available, the range of technologies available for users of varying skill levels, and the resources that are available for individuals interested in sharpening their skills in 3D design.


After a basic understanding of the different making technologies: 3D printing, scanning and design, we found it appropriate to look at what 3D printing and these related technologies look like in the many different industries and communities around the world. We’ve broken this down by exploring different types of 3D printing used in industry, applications of the technology, and career opportunities that exist and that may be relevant to technologically and artistically inclined students.

By diving into the different forms of additive manufacturing and how the different processes have their own advantages and disadvantages in use, readers will receive a strong background with the jargon and technological understanding professionals use when dealing with these tools.

Next, exploring industry applications will show the massive scope that digital making technologies have in terms of where they are being used. We dive into medical technology, aerospace & defense and automotive technology and describe how these industries have been revolutionized (and continue to evolve) by additive manufacturing.

Finishing off with the business side of things, we explore the implications that additive manufacturing and digital making will have on the career paths of those who are technologically and artistically inclined (AKA those taking courses through the MakerLab)!


Entrepreneurship: Individuals looking to start their own businesses or leverage technology like 3D printing to innovate on existing products will be able to access links, individuals, and learning resources to use a place like the MakerLab to explore new ideas. This area will also explore the concept of rapid prototyping that  will aid the new product development process.

Product Development: While a subset of entrepreneurship, will focus on taking a product from ideation to prototyping. 3D printing vastly changes the prototyping process, and this module will provide guidance into this process as well as designing products for additive manufacturing.

Education: Individuals seeking to learn more about how the maker movement is transforming education at various levels and wanting to acquire resources to help introduce themselves and others will find this learning path very beneficial. We hope to craft some great connections to communities around the United States that are talking about ways to integrate the ‘making’ process into our school curricula. This module will also discuss the Maker Movement and how this movement is radically transforming the education landscape.

Architecture: The architecture pathway will provide learners with a solid understanding of how 3D printing is having a great impact on the architecture industry. From revolutionizing the ways that architects present their proposals to clients to enabling architects to rapidly prototype models in ways never seen before, 3D printing is profoundly changing the ways that architects design buildings and structures. The resources in this area will focus on providing community pages, links to architecture groups, and tips on designing for individuals wanting to learn more about how to integrate 3D printing technology into their workflows for architecture.

Business Management: This path of resources will help individuals in management or other business process-related roles learn how to leverage areas like 3D printing, scanning, and design to improve their supply chains, enhance product development, or help their employees become literate in emerging technologies. We feel that this resource will also be very useful to students interested in business that want to learn more about how 3D printing is changing the business landscape and how additive manufacturing processes are impacting the value chain of a business.


While our discipline pathways will be more free flowing following the nature of each module, all the subject pathways follow the same basic format. Each module starts off with a high – level overview of each subject to provide the reader with enough background to understand the technologies at work as well as some of the ways they are applied. Then, the module is split into industry applications, discussing how businesses today currently use the technology, and end-user applications, providing insight into how a casual home user would use these technologies. Each module also contains a “For Kids” section, showing how kids or parents of kids, could use this technology to both play and learn. Finally, the reader is invited to try this technology out for themselves, and we provide low cost ways that people could get involved with each technology.


This project has given us all a great perspective into what it looks like to be on the forefront of a large technological movement. By creating content for our modules and thinking of how we could facilitate learning in the digital making space by leveraging an online platform, we’ve seen firsthand the great significance that 3D printing and digital making is having on the world around us. The breadth of all the different things we wanted to include within these modules speaks to the growing need for educational resources for this kind of content. We’ve learned that while it can be difficult moving from the student point of view to the educator’s, it is very exciting to be so young, but still be able to not only learn about concepts like digital making, but share our knowledge to help others across the globe learn as well.

Post written by Gian Luis Delgado, Anthony Matar, and Noah Baird.

Digital Making Journey

The day prior to the start of second semester classes, I was reviewing the classes I had registered for: Accounting 201, Economic Statistics 203, Calculus 234, and Communications 101 to name a few. None of these topics sparked even the slightest excitement in me. Being a creative minded person, none of these classes offered me with the opportunity to utilize these skills. An hour later, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed that one of my friends had posted about a new 3D printing class, encouraging students to sign up. At first, I scrolled right past it, knowing my severe limitations when it comes to anything technical. However, minutes later, I searched through my Facebook feed for the post. It being my freshman year, I didn’t want to waste another semester going from on drawling class to another. So I took the risk, dropped my Communications class due to credit hour restrictions, and applied to register for the class. Looking back, dropping Communications for Digital Making was one of the best decisions I have made in college yet.

Walking into the MakerLab was one of the first times I really felt excitement in one of my classes all year. With MakerBots whirring around the room, creating real objects from digital files as blueprints and plastic filament as substance, I felt extremely overwhelmed by the potential in that room. I might have flooded my friends’ Snapchat inboxes that day with endless videos of the MakerBots in action due to my fascination.

The class began and everyone introduced themselves as instructed. Immediately, I noticed three distinctions between myself and my classmates: A) I was the only freshman, B) many had had some experience with creating or a technical background at least and C) most already had a clear idea about what they wanted to do as a career. I had come into this class with zero technical experience and a very slim idea of what I wanted as a career. Already, I was starting to doubt my chances of being successful in this class.

It soon became clear to me that my lack of experience would not hinder my success in the class. What makes Digital Making so special is that every individual is able to pursue their own unique path. Each student enters the MakerLab with a different background and is able to use the technology to build themselves up to wherever they want to go.

So, here is my path, as an unexperienced Freshman with no background in making whatsoever:

3D Modeling

We started the course by playing around with Tinkercad. A very elementary modeling program, Tinkercad gets you started with the basics. Through playing around with basic shapes, you begin to realize the potential of even a simple website like Tinkercad for creation. Through this, you can build robots, phone cases, model planes, dragons, and anything you can imagine up.

Although Tinkercad is a great website for beginners, the class learned very quickly that it is severely limited. We were soon introduced to Fusion360, which is free for students. The day we learned Fusion360 ended up being the most frustrating class I have ever sat through. However, after downloading the software on my computer and playing with it on my own, even I was able to learn the basics…kinda.

Headphone tutorial:

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Below is my beginning attempts at modeling a snitch.

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After those failures, I settled for modeling something a little simpler…

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At this point in the course, I began reflecting on the skills I had learned and how I could apply them to the real world. Obviously, 3D modeling is not my forte. However, I believe with this technology, there is something for everyone. The key is blending your passions with the ability to create. My issue was finding that passion to blend with my new making skills.

Learning Alternative Making Technologies

As we neared the end of this course, we began holding our class sessions at the Fab Lab, where we expanded our knowledge of making to various other types of technology. We spent three weeks at the Fab Lab, and each week we learned about a new technology. The weeks we spent at the Fab Lab were my favorite, because the technologies were very easy to use, so I was better able to express my creativity. During these weeks, I used a vinyl cutter, laser engraver, coded with Arduinos, and used an embroidery machine. I began to realize my own potential for making during these sessions. Anyone with an idea is capable of making using the technologies we learned. Creativity is so powerful in that it harnesses the creation of billions of unique ideas. The technologies we now have at our hands are equally as powerful in that they can fabricate these thoughts into existence and make an impact on others’ lives.

For example, during my first session in the Fab Lab, we learned how to use the digital engraver. As it was my best friend’s little sister’s birthday, I decided to use the technology I had just learned to make her a birthday present. Because she is a huge Harry Potter fanatic, I engraved this journal for her with the Marauder’s map on the back and her name engraved in as well. As soon as she received it from her mom, she screamed out loud in the car in excitement, which made me super happy that I had been able to make that kind of impact.

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In addition, I was also able to get my own sister a gift because of this course. When she heard I was taking a 3D printing class, she gave me one request: find a way to 3D print our cat. Although I never was able to accomplish that, during our 3rd session in the Fab Lab, I was able to embroider our cat for her.



From 2D to 3D

After spending some time in the Fab Lab, I began to think about the things I was passionate about and how I could fabricate those passions. Being one of those people who loves to learn new hobbies, this summer I ventured into learning how to do typography. During one of our class sessions, we were given a lot of free time to work on individual projects. I ceased this opportunity to do a bit of research about the potential of 3D typography. Using what I had learned in the Fab Lab and with a little help from fellow maker Kay, I was able to 3D print one of my typography drawings. I couldn’t find one of my original typography designs, so I had to use one that I had replicated.



The file in Tinkercad:


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Test print:



Going through this process allowed me to realize that although I may not be able to proficiently use 3D modeling software to make the next big thing, there still exists a sector in making for me to make my impact through art. I plan on expanding on what I learned about 3D printing the 2D to create even more intricate typography designs this summer.


At the start of this class, I did not think I would be able to create anything useful. However, even though I came in this class with zero technological experience, I can now 3D model and code with Arduinos, which are two things I never imagined myself doing.

In the making world, it doesn’t matter what you start out as. Regardless of if you are an engineer, business major, art student, etc., there is an area for everyone to be able to fabricate their ideas. Everyone is a maker. All one needs is a working mind, a few ideas, and everything is possible. The thing about 3D printing is its potential is as large as the creativity of the maker. The more minds that get involved with this technology, the greater its power will become as more and more ideas will accumulate into greater and greater things to come.

I will end this with a picture of me and my 3D printed face. Twenty years ago, this was an impossible. The possibilities for the future are now endless.


Racing Gloves

We were already well into the first month of class, and I still couldn’t decide what I was going to do my semester long project about. Then Vishal told us we were taking a field trip to the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, with the assignment of bringing an object to 3D scan. I racked my brain for a while trying to come up with an object that was interesting and maybe held potential to be turned into something more.

2015-03-03 3D Scanning - 5784Then later, at track practice, my coach suggested trying to scan one of the handmade gloves we use to race. Usually the gloves take hours and hours to make- custom fit for each racer, not to mention their 350.00 dollar price tag. One pair will last a long time, but since they are so unique they can never be exactly duplicated. This sounded like the perfect kind of item to try and scan, because having a 3D model that you could print over and over again would open up many possibilities.

Sebastian and Mark were also interested in this project, so the three of us set out to try and make the world’s first 3D printed wheelchair racing glove!
IMG_7091After Travis (from the Vis Lab over at Beckman) completed the scan and cleaned up the glove file, we were off to work! We were incredibly lucky and barely had to manipulate the design at all in Geomagic because the scanner was so precise. Surprisingly, the very first time we tried to print our glove, it worked! Afterwards, when trying to make duplicates, we had a lot of trouble positioning it correctly on the raft so print would not fail, but eventually we figured out the best angle and direction to place the glove in order for the prints to continuously be successful.



Once we had our first printed glove, we got to work testing it. I added the additional materials needed to generate grip when pushing at high speeds- some suede and rubber- and encountered a little trouble getting these materials to stick to a different kind of plastic than I was accustomed to.

IMG_0384Once I discovered that using contact cement was the best method, I started putting the glove to good use! We were very excited that the glove held up after just using it for one training run, but we’re happy to announce that the glove is still working perfectly after over 200 miles of force and exertion.


IMG_7456The next step was mirroring the 3D glove file in order to print another glove for my right hand.  Once we figured that out, I added the same extra materials and used the gloves to race in the 2015 Boston Marathon. They worked beautifully!



The things that make this project so successful though were all of the benefits we discovered after the prints proved their durability. For one thing, the plastic that we printed with is incredibly lightweight. My original gloves weighed 174 grams each, and the printed glove only weighs 70 grams. It may not sound like much, but this, I’ve noticed, makes a significant difference when using the gloves to climb hills and push at high speeds. Their lightweight quality also aids in injury prevention. It is common among wheelchair racers to get tendonitis in the wrist from overuse, but the 100 grams that the printed gloves shave off put less stress on the tendons and hopefully decrease the risk of injury. The cost is another great advantage! To print a single glove cost only 4 dollars, that’s a lot of green left in your pocket from the original pair costing a minimum of 300 dollars. The replicability is probably the greatest benefit here though. The fact that you could print multiple pairs of gloves for different weather conditions could be a huge advantage when racing. Some of the world’s best athletes lose important races because they weren’t prepared for the conditions, whether it was rain, humidity, or even snow. Now that we found a way to print the perfectly fitting glove, it is possible to make many, many varieties.

Our next step is to help everyone on the University of Illinois’ Wheelchair Racing team to get their own pair of printed gloves! We’ve started scanning more and more pairs and the team is getting excited. Eventually we would like to discover a process to create a pair of gloves from scratch- just by scanning an athlete’s hand. Over the summer we will continue to explore different methods so potentially people all across the world could buy a pair by simply sending us a file of their scanned hand.

We are very excited to continue pursuing this project, and hope to see it keep growing into the future! The uses for 3D scanning and printing are endless, and it is so thrilling to be a part of discovering why!

Arielle, Mark, Sebastian

BADM 395: Reflecting Back

glove presentation

Our final presentation

At the beginning of the semester, I was feeling a little lost. Many students in the College of Business know exactly want they want to do by their junior year. Accountancy at Deloitte, marketing at Caterpillar, consulting for Ernst and Young, but majoring in Management with a focus in Entrepreneurship, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, I hadn’t quite found exactly where I fit in. But then I took BADM 395 Making Things. The course is about as broad as the name makes it sound, but the skills that I developed over the past 16 weeks have helped me immensely while planning for the future.

Every week was something new. At the beginning of the course, we mostly focused on developing our understanding of 3D printing and the software we would be working with throughout the rest of the course. I am certainly no expert, but now I find I am comfortable working with Autodesk Fusion 360 and Geomagic, to create and manipulate my own 3D objects from scratch. It started with learning to make something as simple as a tiny hat, to eventually printing a complex wheelchair racing glove after merging and cleaning many files after an extremely precise 3D scan. I also know my way around the lab at BIF, so I can complete the printing process from start to finish by myself.


First object created from scratch!


World’s first 3D printed glove!


Finished glove

Aside from those kind of technical skills, we also took a couple weeks to build our creative thinking and teamwork skills. Usually when a professors says there is going to be a group project, red flags go off in my mind, but the diversity of majors in this class made our group projects incredibly interesting and very productive. Students from all colleges took the course, there were engineers, industrial designers, journalists, IS/IT majors, and everything in between. Not only did I meet a bunch of awesome people, I was also exposed to the very unique ways each type of student thinks. So many ideas were thrown out that never would have occurred to me as a business major, and becoming friends and teammates with these people broadened my capacity to see things in a different light.

Learning about the technical process of 3D printing was definitely my favorite aspect of the course, but we also did tons of other workshops at the Fabrication Lab that were a lot of fun, and helped to give me more ideas of what is possible when it comes to the things you can build and create right here on campus. I really enjoyed learning to use the laser cutter to create our own personal leather bound journals and vinyl stickers, and working with the digital embroidery machines was cool as well. It’s amazing to me that someone in the lab was able to create their very own hand bag that can capture solar power and use it to charge a cell phone! The possibilities are endless and whenever there was class time in the lab, it was always so informational and inspiring! We also got to play with Arduinos in the lab, and just learning about what an Arduino is and how it works was an opportunity that not many students in the College of Business have. The fact that a team in class was able to use that knowledge to create a device that could help the elderly remember to take their medication shows the kind of real world applications all of the demonstrations in class have.


First experience with Arduinos


Digital Embroidery


Vinyl sticker made by laser cutter


Personalized journal made using laser cutter

What I gained the most from this course was the simple ability to be imaginative and think outside the box. Because I’m studying entrepreneurship, I am very interested in starting my own business someday. After taking this course, I see all of the potential in 3D scanning and printing, and hope to pursue that as a career. Having heard presentations from my classmates about how you can print prosthetic hands, or an actual three dimensional CT scan of a human brain, I have been inspired. This technology could make a huge impact on the world, it already is, and taking this class has helped me realize that I want to be a part of it. Everyone at this university wants to make a difference, everyone here wants to save the world, and with 3D printing, I think I have found my niche. My little place where I can maybe make a change and help someone in need.

From here I plan to continue working on my group project for the duration of the summer, and see where that takes me. I have met some amazing people in the field that have graciously offered to help me increase my knowledge on scanning and printing- so my journey into the world of 3D printing continues. As I learn more and more I see myself one day developing a product and starting my own business using the skills I’ve gained from this class, but as for now I will keep experimenting on my own until that lightning bolt of an idea strikes me.

I would encourage any student- no matter what major- to give this class a try. Having access to so many kinds of equipment and the professionals who know how to use it is a distinct opportunity that you will likely only come across during your undergraduate years at university. Now that I have been exposed to all that is possible, with 3D printing and “making things” in general, I have become motivated to put that knowledge to good use and make something that matters.

My Fun Journey in Digital Making (Semester Learning Experience)

I guess I am a girl who could easily be amazed at something, and curious all the time. I remember a year ago, when I was a freshman, I visited the engineering quad because of the annual engineering expo in the university, and saw some small things, made by 3D printing and laser cutting, showing on the table. I was immediately intrigued by them, partially because of the beautiful patterns of the laser cutting cards and the creative shapes of the 3D printed objects, and I viewed them as applications of new technologies on art and design at the time. However, as a Finance major student, I never thought I would be able to do this one day… until when I got to know the BADM 395 Making Things class! After knowing this opportunity to get hands on experience of 3D printing, I was so excited and immediately emailed Professor Vishal asking to enroll in the class… and he said “Yes!” ☺☀☺ And now comes my journey that’s filled with tons of fun…



This class is not just about 3D printing. I would like to describe it like this:

1. It serves as a start pointing that introduce different kinds of new technologies to students, regardless of what majors students are in;

2. It is a place more about learning and sharing, and a place where students can enjoy enough freedom in their own creativity and project design, which makes it a very fun class;

3. It is a class that encourage initiative, exploration and self-learning. As a student in the class, I was motivated to explore things that interest me, to do research on the topic and lean new things, to try different ways to make ideas come true.

4. It introduces so much more than 3D printing. Students got to have lots of resources allowed to use on campus because of the class, and learn things by experiencing them. A list of things that this class has to offer:                                                                                       BIF(MakerLab):  3D Printing, Fusion 360                                                                               Beckman Institute Visit: Advanced 3D scanning & printing machines                                 CU Community FabLab: InkScape, Laser Cutting, Making Stickers, Arduino, Electrical Embroidery                                                                                                                                   Chicago Deloitte “Green House” Visit: Technology consulting, how technology is changing manufacturing, operating and the ways businesses work, the importance to embrace new technologies in business to maintain comparative advantages.


Learning Experience

Here are selected works I made that represent different phases of my leaning experience in the class.

A. 3D Printing Introductory


Photo Description: Scanning & Printing

Experience: I was able to scan myself and had myself printed out.                                                                Scanner: Sense Scanner  @MakerLab-BIF              Editing: TinkerCad   @              Printer: MakerBot Replicator 2 @MakerLab-BIF





B. Research & Exploring & Polishing Self-Learning Skills


Photo Description: Wish Card (Semester Activity)

Experience: For my semester activity, I decided to make a birthday wish card for my friend from my volunteering trip SAWS. It includes the extruding of images/ handwriting, the modeling of people’s face based on photos. I also made a presentation on these techniques I explored in the class to share my knowledge. I also posted a detailed journal that tells this experience and shares the knowledge.

My Knowledge Sharing Journal                                                                                       Extruding: InkScape  @                                                                                        Blender  @                                                                        Face Modeling: FaceMaker  @                                                    Faceworx  @


C. Other Technologies Introductory @CU FAB LAB

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Photo Description: Laser Cutting & Making stickers

Experience: We learned to design and make our own stickers and customized notebook using InkScape and other softwares.                  @CU FabLab







Photo Description: Arduino

Experience: I learned to use Arduino and light sensor to make the LED light automatically light up in darkness. Arduino was very fun to play with, and I also integrated it as part of my final project.



Photo Description: Electrical Embroidery             

Experience: I learned to make electrical embroidery in the FabLab. I downloaded this castle picture online and chose the color I wanted, and made this. You may notice that the background looks a little bit different- Because the machine somehow messed the background up, so I actually painted the background with nail polish of different colors to cover it up!



D. Integrating Semester Learning 


 Photo Description: Surprise Box (Final Project)

Experience: I made a box as my final project. It basically includes different things that I learned in the semester that gave me inspirations. I kept journals of it, and you can view them here:

Also, if you want to make a box like mine, you can download the parts to print from my thingiverse page:


This basically summarizes my experience in the class of this semester. I also created my own portfolio because of the class: (Please feel free to view it and let me know if you have any thoughts of helping me to improve it! -Thank you.)


My “Surprise Box”Final Project – Journal 4: Project Meaning & Reflection

This is an overall summary and reflection of my final project. I “categorized” it into several parts, which I thought would make it more clear and easier to read.
Also, if you are interested, please visit the following website:      (My portfolio)   (Where you can download the parts and make the box)
The idea to create this: 
I like science and math; I like art and design; I like volunteering. These characteristics of myself kind of lead me to this project. I wanted to make something that integrates the beauty of math, some kind of “Math Art”, and I want to make something that’s beautiful and meaningful. Also, I enjoy making presents to my friends, so I want to make something that can surprise people or make people happy as well. 
And as this semester, I went on an environmental volunteering trip to Southern Appalachian in North Carolina, I was surprised by how ignorant people could be regarding the protection of the environment and how people may not realize that our actions actually can have influence on the environment. Therefore, I came up with the idea of making this box.  

The designing process & Meaning behind: 
The heart, flowers, and butterfly parts are modeled in Mathematica. This came from the idea of “Art Math”, showing the beauty of symmetry and pattern a function could give us.
The box is designed in such a way that I could hide the Arduino in the lower layer, and put the LED light in the heart. Also, the inside space that is created by a wall of hexagons is used to plant small plants, like grass or moss. 
The idea behind these designs is that: 
> The moss as background, which surrounds the heart, convey my idea that personally, I think plants have “hearts”, or their feelings as well. So when human hurt a tree, like cutting it, it can feel the pain as well. Also, the butterfly and the flowers on the heart symbolize the beauty that nature provides to all the livings in the world. They are beautiful and fragile, and they are something that while we human are enjoying, need to treasure and protect as well. 
> The Arduino part ( including a PIR sensor and a LED light) could make people surprised. When people open the box, the heart will be light up and looks pretty.
> The box is created using Fusion 360. However, the outside patterns of the box were not my work- I didn’t draw those images. I found them(the elephant, flower patterns) on google and use InkScape and Blender to extrude them and integrate them with my box. I wish I could have given credits to whoever designed those images, but I was not able to find the author names.
The box works like this: 
So you open the box, and the heart will be light up, surrounded by green moss, and you will be surprised.
The plant part is not finished yet though, as I am not very familiar with plants and am not able to find suitable plants yet. Therefore, right now I just put in some dry pine tree leaves instead.
Some afterthoughts:
This box symbolizes my idea about protecting the environment. And I also enjoyed myself a lot while doing it, because I love making people happy and I love 3D printing and different technologies. And this box is a combination of different things (3D printing, Arduino, “plants” idea) And as I am actually a Finance and Accountancy sophomore in the University of Illinois, I didn’t have as many chances to access high tech as engineering students, this project really give me the chance to try different ways possible to make an idea come true. 
I had a lot of crazy ideas when I was a kid. They were “crazy” at the time because I didn’t know how to realize them, in other words, I didn’t know the existing technologies possible to make them come true. The biggest afterthought of this project is that, how can the society make these new technologies more accessible to normal people, or more specifically, to children? I believe that if kids are able to have the chance to be introduced to different high technologies, they can really let their imagination fly and have fun and explore and learn a lot while making their “crazy” ideas come true.


My “Surprise Box”Final Project – Journal 3: Box Modeling & Arduino



Box Design



After finishing the most technical part of modeling the heart in Mathematica, I start to make my box.

I used Fusion 360 to model the box, as I was then able to control exactly what I want for different dimensions of the box.

The box also has a lower layer. It is used to hide Arduino and battery. I also make a hold at the bottom of the heart, in order for a LED light to go in.
The Arduino part of my project, I used a PIR sensor, so when people approach the box or when people open it, the heart will be light up.

Another thing is the “fence” that’s built inside the box by a wall of hexagons, which created an empty space inside, was supposed to be used for planting. My original idea was to plant some moss in the box as a background. However, I haven’t found moss to plant there yet, so I used some dry pine tree leaves instead.

After this, I put them all together and my project is done!


To print out the parts and make this box, you can go to my thingiverse page here: