Semester Reflection



In my freshman year, I took a lesson in material science and explored different 3D printing techniques. I visited the MakerLab at that time but never imagined that I’ll be able to take a lesson in my last semester. After learning that the digital making class will be held in the MakerLab, I’m really excited and applied to take the class to learn more about 3D printing.

Before taking the course, I expect Digital Making will be a interesting class with extensive hands-on experience. Based on the classroom location, I thought this is going to be a class based off 3D designing and printing. I was expecting us learning modeling techniques using softwares and developing business ideas using the 3D modeling and printing.


As I take on this class, I realized that this class went far beyond my expectation. We not only gained a lot of exposures of 3D printing, but also on other useful skills that can be extremely valuable for entrepreneurship. The skills we learned include but not limited to:

  • Design Thinking
    • We learned design thinking in one of the first few lessons and it benefited me throughout the whole semester. Design thinking is a powerful conceptual tool for designers to figure out what product they are going to make and what are the functionalities mostly wanted by the users. For our term project, we used the design thinking process to determine our project idea and we all believe that it is a crucial part to the success in our project.
  • Designing Software
    • After the ideation process, the designing softwares help the designers to visualize their idea. In the class, we’ve explored several designing softwares, such as TinkerCAD and Fusion 360. TinkerCAD is a web based tool that is easy to learn and operate. Fusion 360 contains more advanced functions and is able to deliver polished rendered graphs. TinkerCAD allows users to build stuff based on the existing building blocks, whereas Fusion 360 allows users to derive 3D models from 2D graphs. Using Fusion 360 is a whole new set of experience to me. In our final project, we used Fusion 360 to build the models (although we didn’t end up using it).
  • 3D Scanning
    • As the inspirational speech from Arielle demonstrated, 3D scanning can help the designers to customize the designs. In the class, we experienced the 3D scanning process with handheld device. We are able to recognize the advantages and things needs attention from the hands-on experience with 3D scanning.
  • Laser Cutter and 3D Printer
    • I learned to use machines such as laser cutter and 3D printer to make prototypes for our design. During the lessons in the FabLab, we learned how does the laser cutter work and its features comparing to other machines.
    • In our final project, we built the housing using a laser cutter because it is fast and convenient. We also tried to use the 3D printer but we didn’t end up using the 3D printed model.
  • Coding and Circuits
    • In the FabLab, we also learned coding with Arduino. We learned how code on the screen can be transferred into the actual LED signal. Besides, we learned how to solder to realize permanent circuit connection. Both of these skills are integrated to our final project.
  • Project Managing
    • We spent a lot of time working on the project and have learned extensive project management skill. Realizing a project idea can be a iterative process that requires us to go back and think over. In addition, teamwork plays an important role in our project experience. It’s important for everyone in the team to utilize their strengths so we could use the time efficiently.
    • Getting feedback is a really beneficial process for our project. From the project audit process, we gained valuable feedback from other teams. From the project tests, we got what our end users think. Both of these processes greatly improved our understanding to the project.

Overall, the Digital Making class brought me great experience picking up new skills, working in the team, and creating incredible things. I learned different ways of thinking and making things. Although I probably won’t be an entrepreneur with my own product produced in the short future, I believe the skills I learned from the class will alter my view as a project manager or product user. What I learned from this class exceeded my expectation and I would recommend this class to anyone who are innovative and enjoy learning!

Leave a Reply