Semester Learning Portfolio

In the Spring 2015, my last semester in college, I took by far one of the most interesting and hands on rich classes in the College of Business. As you already guessed it was a Digital Making class taught by professor Vishal Sachdev. The class had about 20 students and was very diverse in the students backgrounds, in fact we had business majors, engineers and journalists. It was nothing like other classes in our college, it was an absolutely unique experience. The mission of the class was “Learn, Make and Share”.

Let me tell you first about the environment we worked in and how the class was structured. The most exciting thing was that we rarely stayed in one place. What I mean by this is that we got to explore the majority of resources available on our campus with regard to “Making”. For example our classes took place in the MakerLab at the College of Business, the Beckman Institute, the FabLab and even the Deloitte office in Chicago. In each of this place we had an opportunity to learn and make something new such as 3D printing at the MakerLab, 3D scanning at the Beckman Institute and Arduino coding at the FabLab. However, not only we as students went to visit some places, but we also had some professionals come to our class and teach us something new. For example, we had an opportunity to learn working on Fusion 360 from real industrial design professionals. Also, we had student organizations such as Design for America as our guest speakers that helped us understand human centered design concept. So, as you can see this class encompasses so much diversity in learning and making.

Here is the picture of the FabLab I mentioned above. FYI the door is not easy to find.


Now since I gave you a little bit of environment and structure of the class let me give you examples of things that we made during this semester and the implications of the learning and making processes. The class had a quite exciting start because the first thing that we made was ourselves. Let me clarify here, what we did is we scanned ourselves with a portable 3D scanner and then printed our sculpts on a 3D printer. I could never imagine that this was possible, so I was quite amazed with this experience. With this experience I realized that there could be many applications one of which I learned at the Beckman Institute. When our very own Alma Mater was sent for reconstruction two years ago, some folks at the Beckman Institute were able to 3D scan it and send it to an app that would allow the graduates to take the famous picture with the Alma Mater. Isn’t this amazing!

This is Travis who worked on the Alma Mater project and his giant 3D scanner @Beckman



As I mentioned above we spend some time at the FabLab. The Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab is an open and collaborative workshop space for computer-driven innovation, design and fabrication. Here, we were able to learn and make quite a few things. The FabLab has several sections such as electronics, textile & fabrics, laser engraving and 3D printing. I personally learned to work on Arduino at the electronics section, digital stitching at the textile & fabrics section and laser cutting at the laser engraving section. Each of these experiences gave me opportunity to learn new skills and look at some things differently. For example, with the knowledge we got from Arduino workshop my teammates and I were able to create a pillbox that was able to notify senior citizens with the LED light on Arduino. This idea was developed at the event called Make-a-thon that was organized by the FabLab community. This was a very exciting event where different teams were able to develop their ideas with regard to the “Senior accessibility” and create their prototypes. In addition, with the digital stitching and laser cutting I realized that it is possible to make personalized gifts to my friends and family. Overall, this experience at the FabLab really showed me that it is possible to create an make things that are both meaningful and affordable.

Here are some of my works at the FabLab.

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Now with this amazing experience that I have gotten from the Digital Making class there are certainly some take aways that made me think of how I can apply or further broaden my knowledge about this subject. First of all I really got interested in additive manufacturing which basically is 3D printing. More specifically, I started researching on how people can apply or already applying this knowledge to the construction industry. For example, in China there are already cases when people built houses using additive manufacturing concept (check this articles I think this is truly amazing and soon potentially can become a normal thing. No one thought we could carry phones in our pockets 2-3 decades ago. So, I think 3D printed houses are similar in  that sense, it is hard to believe in it but it surely will become a reality.  Therefore, as I am thinking on becoming an entrepreneur, I believe the trends such as 3D printing will be important for me to keep an eye on in the coming future.

Additionally, many things that I learned in this class, especially the ones at the FabLab I think should become more popular in many places in the world. In particular, I think children from young age should be taught with this kind of skills and knowledge that will allow them think creatively and give opportunity to make things themselves. As a result this will allow to nurture a generation of makers, creators and innovators.

This was my experience at making things, are you ready to “Learn, Make and Share”?!

Week 14

This week I tried laser cutting. It was very simple to do it. First I chose a black/white picture, added some labels and then it was ready to go on a laser cutting machine.



It literally took about a minute to engrave the picture on a notebook.


Here is the final product.


Something interesting I learned was that it is even possible to do laser cutting on a round objects such as wine glasses. In order to do that the part of the laser machine where the objects is put should be changed to another special round part that will allow to engrave things on round objects. I think it is a great and cheap way to make personalized gifts for friends and family.

Week 12&13

In the past two weeks I have done stitching at the FabLab, participated in Make-a-thon and continued working on my final project.

So, first it was an interesting experience using “3D” sewing machines at the Fablab. I decided to make a bear. I first downloaded a black and white picture from the web and then edited it a little bit and added a brown color to the bear. And it was ready to go to the sewing machine.


It’s kind of cool that it shows a picture of the bear on its small screen. By putting a string in the right place on the machine (there are 7 steps to do it) it was ready to start stitching.


That is how it looked in the beginning….the bear had legs and the head was to come soon. Essentially, the machine did everything for me, I just had to wait for it to be done.

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Here is the ready bear….but something else had to be done. I cut off the extra white material around the bear and put a sticky paper on the back side of the bear. Then I ironed it so some strings in the back wouldn’t stand out. And this is how the final product looked like.

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Then, on April 12th my teammates and I participated in Make-a-thon. It was a great event that allowed many people to try their skills in creating/making something new. The topic of the event was a “Senior accessibility”, which meant to create something that would help elder people in their day to day activities. We created a sensor on a pill box which elder people would use to keep track when they need to take their medication. Then we also wanted to create a wristband that would receive notification of when to take the medication. However, our project is not complete, and we are still working on finalizing it.

Here is Amanda Kowalski working with arduino to make the sensor functioning.



Week 11

This week we had a class at a wonderful place called FabLab. Essentially, FabLab is a maker place with many resources such as 3D printers, 3D scanners, sewing machines and many other cool things. As I understood, FabLab is divided into 3 sections: 3D printing, arts&crafts and electronics.



So, this time again I worked with arduino at the electronic section. This time I learned two very cool things that can be done with arduino. First, I learned how to install a sensor chip. I made a light bulb to turn off when I cover the sensor and turn on when I don’t cover the senser. The second feature of arduino that I learned was the sound. I installed a sound device on arduino which later I connected to a senser device. So, I was able to control the level of the sound by placing my hand closer or further from the sensor.


Next time at FabLab I am looking forward to try making something new. Hopefully will learn some skills that will be helpful for Make-a-thon and develop some ideas to get a head start.

Week 9: Arduino & Fab Lab

On March 17th the class was full of interesting and new things. First of all I learned what is Arduino and got to play with it. “Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software.” As its definition tells you Arduino is a piece of electronic platform that can be programmed to do certain functions. IMG_20150317_141537

So, I started by watching couple Arduino tutorials from the MakerLab’s website. Here is the link to the tutorials Then, after I watched first two of them, I started writing code. Here is how it looked like:



After the code was written I tried to test whether my system would work or not. Essentially my goal was to turn the light on. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that because of some hardware connectivity problems. I believe I was missing some part, or probably connected it incorrectly. But here is how it looked like:


For the rest of the class we had a guest speaker from a Fab Lab. Fab Lab is a community based maker lab located on campus close to Agriculture Library. He showed us different cool things that were made at Fab Lab and explained what they do there overall. I, personally, think that it’s a great place that should exist in every community. Especially it is very beneficial for children because it helps them develop and understand design as well as think more creatively. Looking forward for our sessions there after the break!

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Week 7 & 8: 3D Scanning and Geomagic

On March 3rd we had a class at Beckman Institute, the place full of cool things one of which is an advanced 3D scanner. The class was divided in two groups, and I was in the group that first went to experience the huge 3D scanner. The class was led by an experienced professional, Travis, who explained us the history and other aspects of the 3D scanning. One of the cool things he mentioned was that he worked on a project where he had to scan Alma mater, so the graduates would have an opportunity to take a photo with it, while Alma was gone for reconstruction.


Moving forward, one of our classmates offered to scan her special equipment for wheelchair racing. This was actually a really good idea since the equipment had to be custom made and often time consuming and challenging and therefore the opportunity of replicating it with 3D scanning and printing seemed like a possible solution. Travis started scanning the equipment, but in the beginning the fidelity was not high enough. The reason for that is because the equipment had a rubber part on it and Travis had to spray it first to clean. After that the scanning process continued smoothly.


The next week Travis visited us at Maker lab and gave a tutorial on how to use the software called Geomagic. He started by showing us the equipment we scanned the week before. With the help of Geomagic he was able to clean the equipment and get it ready for printing. However, as an example for our tutorial he then used some clay made object, since it was less complex. We learned how to clean the model by trimming, mashing and cutting. Overall, I learned that Geomagic is a software that is basically used for getting the model ready for printing.

This experience showed me the opportunity to scan the objects with high fidelity and preparing it for printing. Being a business major, I right away started thinking about the opportunities for commercializing the things that can be done with 3D printing. Especially, since we scanned the equipment for racing that had a certain demand but no current efficient solutions.

Week 4: 3D Printing myself

I have never thought that one day I would be able to print myself. But, last week I got a chance to do that. It was pretty exciting. First, we had to scan each other using an Ipad or a special scanner connected to a computer. After couple tries the scanning process was successful and I was able to save it and open it on tinkercard. This is the scanner that I used.


Next, I added the base for my model and played around with colors creating Illini spirit. I thought that I would be able to print my model in two colors, however I forgot that we can only use one color. The shape of the model was nearly perfect, so there was no need for adjustment.


Then I saved my model and sent it to the 3D printer. I waited a little bit before it started printing and then picked it up the next day when it was ready. The result was great, I liked my model.

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This experience had a significant impact on me, because I realized the power of this technology and what can be done with it. Essentially, this means it is possible to scan any object and replicate it through 3D printing. I think the combination of 3D scanning and 3D printing will be a powerful way of finding new solutions for existing problems. I believe that this know how will be especially useful in organ printing where most of the times the exact copy of the existing organ is needed.



One Day with Design for America Team: Summary Post


On the February 3rd.we had two guest speakers from Design for America team. They showed us an interesting way of solving problems through the human-centered design process. The specific topic of our discussion was destructive driving. Below is the framework that we used in class that helped us understand the problem first and then create a suitable solution for that problem.




In this stage we tried to identify the problem by brainstorming different ideas why people get destructed while driving. The several reasons for destructive driving were texting to friends, talking on the phone, switching the radio and etc.



Here we surveyed each member of our group to better understand why each of us gets destructed while driving. This helped each student to put himself in the position of the destructive driver and think about the reasons why he or she does that. This was also useful for the interviewers to collect some data and feedback from others before framing the problem.



This was a very important stage of the whole process, because here we had to reframe all our thoughts and ideas to one single problem. We used “How can we” statement to help us phrase the problem so it would be specific and clear.




Before building a prototype we ideated different thoughts of how the reframed problem could be solved. Shared our thoughts with team members and combined our ideas to come up with one single solution.



This was the most exciting stage. Here we actually got to use given resources to build a prototype. Every team had different prototype depending on the problem they identified and corresponding solution that they created.



Due to time and other constraints we had the testing stage was not executed. But someone tried…..



Overall the process was very interesting and fun, especially because it involved several icebreaker games that helped us think more creatively and outside of our comfort zone.


Huge thanks to DFA team that made this class so exciting!!!




Week 3: Olzhas

This week we had visitors from Design for America team. The class was nothing like my other boring accounting classes (don’t say this to my accy professors lol). The guys from DFA did a really good job presenting us a new way of looking at a problem and finding a solution for that problem. The class was very entertaining, but the same time it was very reach in new information. Especially, for a business student like me, it was very interesting to see how people from other disciplines approach a particular problem, the way they think and even the way they see the world.

So, what we did in class could be called a process of finding a solution for a specific problem, in our case the big picture problem was “destructive driving”. I liked how we first worked individually and then had to share our thoughts with group and this was timed most of the times. It was interesting how many thoughts and ideas we could generate within a certain time frame.


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The most important take away though for me was the fact that first it all depends on how you define a problem. Although, we were given one big picture idea of “destructive driving”, every group had to come up with its own specific problem. This was not an easy task, but very important because the quality of our solution would depend on how well we define the problem.


Finally, the atmosphere that was created by DFA representatives was simply fabulous. One can say that we played silly games, but I think they helped us create open, relaxed and creative atmosphere which in turn was very crucial to our productivity.

Week 2 Reflection: Olzhas

I am very excited about this class and very happy that I got into it. 3D Printing is very cool and opens up so many opportunities and new ways of thinking and doing things. So, in the last class I learned that there are several different open platforms and communities that provide great readily available designs. In addition, on some of them it is possible to create your own designs, which is great! Also, it was great to work as a group with Nora and Sebastian and creating our own 3D printed design of our team name. Go, Senol!!!)))

Here are my 4 models from Thingiverse:

  1. PL1Q Vampire, the 3d printable quadcopter

This is a cool model of 3D printed quadcopter. This model interested me because currently so called drones are becoming very popular everywhere in the world. Drones are simply flying cameras that can be controlled by a human from the ground. So this might be the future of how people will take videos. It is great that it is possible to design such drones with 3D printing. One thing that I would change in the design of this model though is that I would add a special component that will hold a camera.



  1. Bottle opener

This bottle opener is designed for people who is limited with body movements and helps them to open plastic bottles. This bottle opener requires very minimum effort and a great solution for this problem. This device can be upgraded by adding some additional functions or just simply making it as a key chain.



  1. CardEasy Extra Wide Base

This is a cool and convenient thing that make holding cards much easier. This also eliminates the need to always hold the cards in your hand. However, I would change the design to make it more cool, instead of the current design I would create a hand with a base that will hold the cards.



  1. Ice Scraper

This is a regular ice scraper. However, when I saw it on the picture with a person’s hand holding it, I got another idea how to use it. I thought what if people who use public transportation such as subway and buses in the highly populated cities will own personal “bus holder” (I don’t know how to word it specifically). This will allow people who stand in the public transportation to use their own clean “bus holder”. I think it will be very useful from sanitary point of view.