Week 2 Summary: Diving Deeper

Week 2, Monday, late-afternoon and the MakerLab is filled with the sonorous sound of the 3D printers whizzing away. Walking into the familiar classroom to not only hear the soothing buzz of creation but also to feel the ambiance of the eagerness to learn and have fun were certainly worth the climb and much-needed exercise up to the top floor of the Business Instructional Facility.

Week 1 was all about settling into the class with an introduction and overview of what “making” with alumni Arielle Rausin and John Hornick. Arielle, a local entreprenuer, talked about her glove business (mainly for wheelchair racing) and how 3D printing enabled her to become so successful in her innovations. John Hornick, the author of 3D Printing Will Rock the World dove into what 3D printing has in store for users in the future and how it changed the way people design, make and interact with the world. This week, we learned about additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. We had the privilege of listening to the guest lecturer and Director of the Champaign-Urbana Community (CUC) Fab Lab, Jeff Ginger. We also successfully reviewed the two learning objectives: discovering different websites where other people create and share different designs of objects and learning the basics of 3D printing.

To start off the class, we split up into 7 different groups to explore different sites in which different people from all around the world shared their creations. Many of these sites such as thingiverse.com and youmagine.com are open source and let beginners and advanced makers alike share and create designs to tinker with. These sites are platforms that make such “blueprints” easily accessible and have become important in the Maker Movement.

Here are the links to the sites that we explored in this class:





After going over these online sources, Jeff Ginger talked about the CUC Fab Lab, which is an open and collaborative workshop space for technology-driven innovation and design. The facility and other Fab Labs are central players in the Maker Movement (a social, economic, and political movement that incorporates both technology and DIY culture). Within the CUC Fab Lab, Jeff brought up the extensive equipment such as engravers, electronic cutters, sewing machines, and 3D printers, that enables local entrepreneurs and students alike to create their own products. The CUC Fab Lab also enable and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to stop by and explore the facilities with the help of the staff and volunteers. One example Jeff showcased was Monet and the Waterlily Friends, a children’s book by Judy Lee, an artist, and entrepreneur, that started at the Fab Lab and was successfully kickstarted. The Fab Lab encourages people to become makers through exploration of the design. You can learn more about the Fab Lab by visiting http://cucfablab.org/ .

After the guest presentation, we learned more about the basics of 3D printing such as the STL file (a file format used in 3D printing). We went onto http://thingiverse.com to find simple objects such as a toothbrush holder, a grocery bag holder, and an Illinois state keychain to print. We used the computer application, Cura, to help transfer the data to the 3D printer (through an SD card).

A 3D printer in action.
Charlene's finished Illinois keychain
In general, the students this week had fun and learned more in depth what 3D printing is. Many of the students before this class never saw 3D printing as something important. For a lot of the students and certainly myself included, this week was the first week we printed. Personally, I was definitely surprised and felt pride and accomplished that I was able to make my own keychain. The following are several students’ views of the course and Week 2’s activities:

“Before this course, I had never realized the importance of the Maker Movement that was being created and developed within the community.” – Charlene


“As we approach week 3 of the Digital Making class, I can say that this class has been extremely enjoyable thus far. There have been many things I’ve learned already and this is coming from someone who was going to buy a 3D printer about two years ago.” – Jorge


“Mesmerized by the 3D printer in action, buzzing away as it slowly built my model one layer at a time, I certainly felt like I was a little kid again.” – Tiffany

Before the class meetup, we were also required to read The Maker Mindset and Neil Gershenfeld’s “How to Make Almost Anything.” While Gershenfeld raised more legal and moral concerns regarding the printing and possible fabrication of designs, The Maker Mindset took a more positive approach in commending how the Maker Movement transforms education by challenging and offering limitless opportunities for students to innovate and create their own objects. Personally, this hit a chord with me and reminded me that while this course encouraged us to push for creativity, challenge our thinking, and succeed in our projects, it was also an opportunity to fail and learn from mistakes. Many courses in the business school do not allow a lot of buffer room to make mistakes, learn from them and redeem them. Yet, after just week 2 and being able to observe not only an excellent professor with over 10 years of teaching, 4 of those years as the director of the Illinois MakerLab guiding us, but also being able to have hands-on experience and first-hand accounts of the digital making process, this class has already surprised me and have definitely spiked my interest. I am sincerely and genuinely excited to see how this class will shape and mold us into the creative and innovative future generation. I hope that in Week 3 will be just as enticing when Design for America presents about Design Thinking.

If you want to learn more about Week 2 and are interested in what individual students learned, here is the link to the Week 2 reflections:


Week 3: Inspiring, Ideating, and Implementing


When Design for America came to talk, I was quite taken aback. I was thinking questions like what does design or art have anything to do with IS/IT? But the presentation begged to differ. I was genuinely surprised how much design and innovation was used to actually create the beginning steps of a product. Like Brown mentioned in his “Design Thinking,” the design I assumed was for aesthetics or advertising strategies. Even when I think of design, I always think of forms of art category such as graphic design or interior design. Design thinking is taking an innovation or activity and changing it to fit human needs. In this day and age, a design must keep up with current technology.

Design for America's presentation

Professor Weightmen brought up that design thinking has to incorporate the desirability of humans, the viability of business, and the feasibility on the technical side. This was also seen in the article. For example, IDEO and Shimano (Japanese bicycle components manufacturer) designed a completely new category of bicycling. in the article, Brown talks about how the majority of American adults don’t because of dangerous roads and intimidation. To conquer such a problem IDEO and Shimano created coasting bikes that incorporated simplicity and straight-forwardness with the intent of pleasure and fun. This new product from an untapped market hoped to help Americans lapse into biking.

The presentation encouraged us to think outside the box. In business and design, success usually requires innovation that gives a company an advantage over other companies. As a group, we were given three design cards that forced us to design a product for a target group, a “problem,” and then a constraint. This was very fun since we got a mid-life crisis father who has everything with a constraint of the cloud. It challenged us to think differently while still making a product attractive and possible even when we had a big restriction.

Our group's (Tiffany, Taofik, and me) brainstorming and reasoning for the activity.

We also learned the three steps in design thinking: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. During class, as a group, we had to design a type product centered around senior citizens in their day to day life. This was very memorable because we were able to go through these steps to make something that had potential to become reality. For my group, we noticed that seniors often have less balance and fall easily. When they fall, they often don’t have the ability and resilience to get back up. We brainstormed many different ideas and possible products that could help the senior get the help they needed. Using such ideas we eliminated ideas that were less plausible and focused on something efficient and more likely to be used. Finally, we crafted a prototype of our product to show how it might work. Through this week’s we were inspired, we ideated, we implemented.

Our first prototype product for senior citizens.

Steven Widen’s “How to Use Design Thinking and Agility to Reach Product Development Breakthroughs” used another example of design thinking that is closer to home, the iPhone. Back in 2004, design thinking managed to push Apple on to the radar for innovation and creative technology. Even today Apple has stood far above the rest of the companies such as Motorola, or BlackBerry, and slowly but surely edging itself out of the competition with Samsung. Apple is able to stay successful by taking risks that they predicted will become the norm in a couple of years. For example, two years ago Apple decided to make the “plus” phones that were more than an inch bigger than the regular phone. There was a lot of critics on the phone, but now two years later, a big phone is normal and almost every phone designer has an option of going bigger with the size of the phone.

Week 2 Reflection: Rethinking and Making

This past week we got to learn about the facilities on campus and around the community that provide excellent resources in 3D printing. The director of Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, Jeff Ginger came into talk about the Maker Movement and how it’s a center player in the movement. The Fab Lab runs classes, collaborate grants, and supports research. Classes are available for everyone. One of the most memorable parts of the presentation was when Jeff talked about how professional artists integrate both business skills as wells as artistic skills to create their own products and start their own business. One person, he talked about was Judy Lee, an artist that used the Fab Lab resources to help produce her book and other book-related products (mini keychains, sculptures, etc.) through Adobe Illustrator and 3D printing. Her story really clicked with me since I hold very similar dreams and aspirations of incorporating my business skills in accounting and information systems to start my own business that involves both artistic, as well as technological aspects. Hearing about her success within the community, as well as the number of donors that support her work is very encouraging.

The article “How to Make Almost Anything” was both insightful and challenged me to think of innovative ways to make useful everyday objects. We live in a time were indulging and consuming ready-made products are the status quo. I realized I also fall victim to such a materialistic mindset of buying whatever I needed. If I needed a phone holder, I would buy one on Amazon. If I needed a cup to drink a beverage from, I would buy one from a local grocery store. Before this class, I never thought that I could make such a wide range products with such a machine. This article made rethink of a number of resources I consume and money that I waste from buying easily 3D makeable objects. Additionally, “blueprints” of objects are easily accessible and free through open source websites like Thingiverse and Tinkercad. I was able to apply this by printing a keychain (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:596527).

Chip Bag Clip http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1212828

I find that this object is very applicable in my life. I love snacking, but sometimes when I have a big bag of chips, I have trouble keeping my snack fresh because I have no way of closing the bag. This object helps will help keep my snacks fresh. I would, however, try to redesign it so that it encloses a larger surface area.

Phone Holder http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1041363

I FaceTime my mom every day to keep her company. This object enables me to keep it in a single position while doing other work. This phone holder does not seem to be adjustable, since everybody is of different lengths, having an adjustable and rotatable base would be advantageous. I would also a cutout at the bottom so that I could charge my phone while it’s on the holder,

Selfie Stick https://www.myminifactory.com/object/selfie-stick-11330

I love taking pictures since I believe that documenting my day to day life is important. What better way to do so but to have a portable and adjustable selfie stick with you at all times. I would make it so that the selfie stick base would be rotatable. Furthermore, I would also make sure that it could extend longer.

USB Cord Rack http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:829745

I would definitely need this. I have so many cords around my room that it’s not only dangerous for me if I stepped on one, but it could also potentially damage the cord. This rack helps separate one cord from another and keeps the cords organized.