I came into this class extremely excited to learn how to make things. My original course plan left me without the ability to take this course but, like most plans, things did not work out and I was lucky enough to have the ability to enroll in Digital Making Seminar. I had originally thought that this class would focus mostly on 3D printing and getting hands on experience through structured assignments that maybe let us explore different technologies a little. What I did not expect was how much this class would teach me about the entire process of making something from simply coming up with a concept to turning it in to a functional object and the wide range of skills that this class would leave me with. My experiences in this class definitely exceeded my original expectations
My favorite part of this class was all of the things that I learned. To start, I was able to refine my skills with 3D printing and become familiar with a more powerful modeling tool than I had ever used before. As I described in this post, Fusion can be an incredible software to use once you have mastered all of the tricks that come along with using it. In the future I definitely hope to continue refine my skills in modeling in hopes that I can eventually design my own replacement parts for my cars and my professional audio equipment. I also learned about design thinking and how creating something is an iterative process. I enjoyed the class activity that I described here because it showed how it is possible to take a problem and work through it to come up with a solution and especially how creating a How Can We statement helps you stay focused on the problem you are trying to solve.
My time at the Fab Lab was also full of learning. Over the course of those 3 weeks, I got to experience three different ways of making things that I never thought I would have learned. The first of those was embroidery as I got to see how simple it was to take a concept and create a colorful piece of art. This is a skill I hope to teach to my mom as she’s always wanted to learn how to embroider. Laser Cutting was also really cool to learn because it was surprisingly easy to design objects to be laser cut and it was a great experience working with a machine that costs thousands of dollars. Getting to learn about e-textiles difficult but extremely rewarding. This was one of those skills that I had no idea I would learn about in this class but was happy to get hands on experience in. I will admit that although I have plenty experiences in sewing, adding lights on to the embroidery was pretty difficult as I was working with pretty small parts. I also hope to show my mom how this works as she enjoys arts and crafts.
Finally, one of the biggest skills I learned was how to work with Arduinos and small electronics. I have had experiences working with electronics in the past but the components that I needed for our final project was all new to me. I was excited to get hands on experience with Arduinos. I learned pretty early on that it is important to take working with an Arduino slowly and step by step so that you don’t get overwhelmed. I also discovered that the maker community has an incredible presence online that that everything I needed to learn was available. That being said, I also learned that it is incredibly important to really understand what a piece of code does or what a particular pin in a sensor or display does. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck trying to piece together other people’s work and will never truly learn anything useful. Getting to use what I learned about Arduinos to create a fully functional prototype of a vertical garden that let the user know if the plants needed water or sunlight was an incredible experience and extremely satisfying.
Overall, I think the biggest thing that I learned from taking this class is that I am more capable than I think I am. Having learned all of these skills myself, I have gained the confidence that I can pick up whatever knew skill or technology that I am interested in and drive myself to master that skill. This class will by far be one of my most favorite classes that I have taken during my undergraduate career and I am thankful for the opportunity to have taken it.