Integrate technology and life
Impact the human experience
How Do I Enroll?

Intelligent Environments

Develop smart spaces that support efficiency and high quality of experience

About Intelligent Environments

As the technology that we use progresses, we are beginning to notice it less. It is becoming more graceful, knowing when to gently make itself available for us to work and when to fade, allowing us to think. Intelligent environments make us and our ideas the rightful stars of our workspaces.

Students in Intelligent Environments will focus on spaces that support efficiency and high quality of experience, addressing both the integrated development of such environments and the resulting experience. They will explore this integrated approach in many contexts: daily activity, built environment, making process (from laying plaster to robot development), arts performance.

Students in this area will work in tandem with the Physical Computing and Media Design concentrations, which provide knowledge in key component elements of integrative intelligent environments. Accordingly, students can customize their studies by combining courses across these three concentrations with the help of their advisors.

How to Participate

IDeATe's Intelligent Environments minor and courses are open to students from any major. The minor requires taking a portal course plus four courses from the collaborative and supportive course options. Students should contact the IDeATe advisor to discuss curriculum and to make a loose plan of study. 

Students may also opt to take just one or two courses to fulfill course requirements or to explore an area of interest. Pursuing a minor is not a prerequisite for taking the Intelligent Environment courses.


The table below outlines the curriculum requirements and course options for Intelligent Environments. For information on Intelligent Environments courses being offered this semester, please visit the Courses page.

Minor - Five courses

One Portal Course:

  • For DC, CFA, TSB majors: 16-223 Introduction to Physical Computing
  • For CIT, MCS, SCS majors: 60-223 Introduction to Physical Computing

Four Collaborative or Supportive Courses:

  • 16-371/54-371 Personalized Responsive Environments
  • 16-375/54-375 Robotics for Creative Practice
  • 16-455/48-530 Human-Machine Virtuosity
  • 16-456/48-558 Reality Computing
  • 16-457/48-559 Reality Computing II
  • 16-867 Human-Robot Interaction
  • 18-540 Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems
  • 48-528 Responsive Mobile Environments
  • 54-498/60-446 Expanded Theater
  • 12-750 Infrastructure Management
  • 48-734 Reactive Spaces and Media Architecture
  • 60-441 Urban Intervention
Note: Students also have the option of taking one Collaborative or Supportive course from one of the other IDeATe areas.

Double-counting: Students may double-count up to two of the IDeATe minor courses for other requirements.


The IDeATe collaborative studios promote hands-on learning through making, critique, and iterative design. Students in these courses apply skills from both technology and arts disciplines to prototype ideas and leverage the diversity of perspectives to produce innovation in their field. Learning happens both through the instructor and through the interdisciplinary peer cohort.

Advanced Topics in Reality Computing: The Adaptive Home

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

The Adaptive House is the focus of an advanced design studio based around the collaborative development of reality computing applications within a residential prototype. Reality computing encompasses a constellation of technologies focused around capturing reality (laser scanning, photogrammetry), working with spatial data (CAD, physical modeling, simulation), and using data to interact with and influence the physical world (augmented/virtual reality, projector systems, 3d printing, robotics). This studio will use reality computing to understand existing homes, define modes of augmentation,...

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Designing for the Internet of Things

Offered by: Integrated Innovation Institute

Thermostats, locks, power sockets, and lights are all being imbued with "smarts" making them increasingly aware and responsive to their environment and users. This course will chart the emergence of the now "connected world" to explore the possibilities for future products and connected spaces. This introductory, hands-on course invites students to creating connected products without any knowledge of programming, electronics or systems. Students will be introduced to interactive connected technologies through a series of hands on exercises, collaborative projects, in depth discussions, and instructor...

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Ecologics: Computational Techniques for Shaping the Built Environment

Offered by: Architecture

Ecology posits that all entities within a given system have thermodynamic relationships to each other and are bound together in complex exchanges of energy and information: an ecosystem. This seminar seeks to translate this dynamic exchange into a computational framework directly influencing design processes. Students will be introduced to computational design thinking, using contemporary parametric modeling as a method for incorporation of environmental data into systemic dynamic behavior and feedback loops. The objective is to speculate about performative architectural, or urban systems, the...

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Expanded Theater

Offered by: Art, Drama

As the boundaries between theater, art, entertainment and everyday life continue to expand through engagement with new technologies, it is critical that emerging artists and technologists be provided with the tools, language, and vision to thrive in the new millennium. Expanded Theater will reanimate classical modes of performance with media, networks, robotics, locative applications, and mobile systems.

Considering theater as an ancient technology of mass participation and social cohesion, this fusion studio explores how emerging technologies can expand upon the basic theatrical relationships...

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Human-Machine Virtuosity

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

Human dexterous skill embodies a wealth of physical understanding which complements computer-based design and machine fabrication. This project-oriented course explores the duality between hand and machine through the practical development of innovative design and fabrication systems. These systems fluidly combine the expressivity and intuition of physical tools with the scalability and precision of the digital realm. Students will develop novel hybrid design and production workflows combining analog and digital processes to support the design and fabrication of their chosen projects. Specific...

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Human-Robot Interaction

Offered by: Robotics Institute

This course focuses on the emerging field of human-robot interaction, bringing together research and application of methodology from robotics, human factors, human-computer interaction, interaction design, cognitive psychology, education and other fields to enable robots to have more natural and more rewarding interactions with humans throughout their spheres of functioning. This course is a combination of state-of-art reading and discussions, focused team exercises and problem-solving sessions in human-robot interaction, and a special team project resulting in the implementation of a human-robot...

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Personalized Responsive Environments

Offered by: Drama, Robotics Institute

Launching Fall 2015. Environmental factors have a significant impact on mood and productivity. Creating responsive environments necessitates the design of surroundings that are able to metamorphose in order to optimize user strengths and available resources and evolve in stride with user needs. 

This course will investigate the development of spaces that adapt to user preferences, moods, and task specific demands. Both the design and engineering of such personalized environments will be explored. Central course concepts...

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Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems

Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering

This is a project-oriented course which will deal with all four aspects of project development; the application, the artifact, the computer-aided design environment, and the physical prototyping facilities. The class, in conjunction with the instructors, will develop specifications for a mobile computer to assist in inspection and maintenance. The application will be partitioned between human computer interaction, electronics, industrial design, mechanical, and software components. The class will be divided into groups to specify, design, and implement the various subsystems. The goal is to...

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Reality Computing II

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

Launching Spring 2016. Course description coming soon.

Spring 2016 instructor: Pyry Matikainen

Responsive Mobile Environments

Offered by: Architecture

Embedded, connected and mobile computing combine to create powerful platforms for sensing human behavior and personalizing experiences in situated spaces. Creating intelligent, meaningful, and opportune feedback to provide serendipitous support for the people and activities within these spaces still remains an important problem. Students will seek creative solutions to this challenge in this hands-on introduction to real-time interactive environments. The course will introduce foundational theories, methods and techniques that range across the aesthetic, the human-centered and the technical....

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Robotics for Creative Practice

Offered by: Drama, Robotics Institute

This project-oriented course brings art and engineering together into making machines which are surprisingly animate. Students will iterate their concepts through several prototypes focused on using embodied behavior as a creative medium for storytelling, performance, and human interaction. This year we will work with human-scale machines constructed using CNC-cut plywood and pneumatic actuation, culminating in a group performance. Students will learn skills for developing and programming performance behaviors, designing expressive kinetic systems, and rapidly prototyping simple robots. Technical...

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In addition to the collaborative studios, the IDeATe network also incorporates a number of existing courses from across the university into its curriculum. These courses have significant applications in the technology-arts realm and serve to enrich the student experience in IDeATe and at Carnegie Mellon.

This course takes a broad view of infrastructure systems to include physical infrastructure and information networks.
Offered by: Civil and Environmental Engineering
This class will focus on the design and prototyping of reactive spaces. Over the course of several small projects and one large final project, students will learn where, when and how to embed computationally-driven experiences into the built environment.
Offered by: Architecture
This mini will introduce you to research and theory on how to create effective teams.
Offered by: English


A student can choose to enroll in an IDeATe concentration or minor either in their sophomore or in their junior year. These required portal courses introduce students to the concepts and practices of knowledge areas beyond their discipline that contribute to the subject of each minor/concentration.

Arts and Humanities Students
Students wishing to enter this concentration will have the option to take either course.
Engineering Students
Intro to Physical Computing
Physical computing refers to the design and construction of physical systems that use a mix of software and hardware in order to sense and respond to the surrounding world.


Faculty members from across the university collaborate to develop and instruct courses that are collaborative in nature and support diverse areas of student expertise.

Nina Barbuto
School of Architecture
Intelligent Environments
Daragh Byrne
School of Architecture
Intelligent Environments
Dana Cupkova
School of Architecture
Intelligent Environments
Anne Mundell
School of Drama
Intelligent Environments
Peter Scupelli
School of Design
Intelligent Environments
Daniel Siewiorek
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Intelligent Environments
Reid Simmons
The Robotics Insitute
Intelligent Environments
Manuela Veloso
Computer Science Department
Intelligent Environments
Garth Zeglin
The Robotics Insitute
Intelligent Environments Physical Computing