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Media Design

Design mediated experiences across different platforms, from mobile to large-scale installations

About Media Design

Media used to consist of information and experiences passing through many hands before being delivered to an audience by one prescribed source. Advances in the philosophy and technology of media have allowed us, the audience, to play a more active role in how our information and experiences arrive in our hands. We are now able to customize things like our daily news and artistic experiences.

The Media Design concentration serves students who are interested in digital mediation of experiences. It explores the interconnected development of technology and content in new media systems and the meaning that arises from the resulting forms. Students learn to design mediated experiences across different platforms, from mobile to large-scale installations. They study the structure and function of different components of mediated experiences. They learn how to synthesize those components and how to connect modular structures for the creation of transmedia experiences.

How to Participate

IDeATe's Media Design 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 Media Design courses.


The table below outlines the curriculum requirements and course options for Media Design. For a listing of courses offered this semester, please visit the Courses page.

Minor - Five courses

One Portal Course:

  • For DC, CFA, TSB majors: 15-104 Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice
  • For CIT, MCS, SCS majors: 62-150 Introduction to Media Synthesis & Analysis

Four Collaborative or Supportive Courses:

  • 15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies
  • 15-394 Intermediate Rapid Prototyping
  • 16-456 Reality Computing
  • 16-457 Reality Computing II
  • 16/54-375 Robotics for Creative Practice
  • 18-099 Mobile App Design and Development
  • 18-551 Digital Communication and Signal Processing Systems Design
  • 24-672 Special Topics in DIY Design and Fabrication
  • 51-236 Information Design
  • 53-312 Guest Experience and Theme Park Design
  • 53-642 Themed Entertainment Design Studio
  • 54-598/60-446 Expanded Theater
  • 60-110 Electronic Media Studio I
  • 60-210 Electronic Media Studio II
  • 60-412 Interactive Art and Computational Design
  • 60-427 Digital Storytelling & Resistance
  • 60-441 Urban Intervention
  • 62-478 digiTOOL
  • 67-240 Mobile Web Design & Development
  • 67-340 Mobile Web Design & Development
  • 76-285 Team Communication
  • 76-374 Mediated Narrative
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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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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IDeATe: Variational Geometry I

Offered by: Architecture

This course will introduce concepts and strategies for the modeling and development of complex computational geometry for 3D printing purposes and introduce algorithmic thinking using the Rhinoceros McNeel platform and Grasshopper plugin. This course is intended for students with no or little 3-D modeling skills to advance their
abilities in modeling, digital prototyping, spatial design and visual communication.

Information Design

Offered by: Design

This undergraduate IDeATe design course focuses on teaching a basic visual design process from start to finish. You will work individually and in teams to gain proficiency in applying specific design methods to information design challenges at each stage of the design process.In IDeATe Information Design you will: perform exercises and activities to practice what you learn, attend to lectures to gain new information/perspectives, engage in projects to learn through making, conduct readings to balance theory and practice, participate in critiques to verbalize your views and consider alternate...

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Intermediate Rapid Prototyping

Offered by: Computer Science

This course covers additional topics in rapid prototyping beyond the content of 15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies. Example topics include mechanism design, procedural shape generation using Grasshopper, 3D scanning and mesh manipulation, and advanced SolidWorks concepts. The only prerequisite is basic familiarity with SolidWorks, which can be obtained via 15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies, from other CMU courses, or from online tutorials.

Spring 2017 instructor: Dave Touretzky

Mediated Narrative

Offered by: English

Spring 2017: In this project-based course students will create a computer-based interactive documentary about contemporary Cuban society, which will be filmed in Cuba during the Spring break week of 2017. The class will explore different styles and techniques of storytelling with the flexibility of form offered by the computer through the practice of digression, multiple points of view, disruptions of time and of storyline, etc. Students will work within interdisciplinary teams in the creative areas of English and creative writing, video production, interactive media, data visualization and...

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Mobile Web Design and Development

Offered by:

This course introduces students to mobile web design and development. Students will learn the concepts and techniques of mobile web design and develop a working application using HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript. The course utilizes a hands-on approach to guide students through learning and understanding the design and development process.

Fall 2017 instructor: Sara Moussawi

Rapid Prototyping Technologies

Offered by: Computer Science

This mini-course introduces students to rapid prototyping technologies with a focus on laser cutting and 3D printing. The course has three components: 1) A survey of rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing technologies, the maker and open source movements, and societal impacts of these technologies; 2) An introduction to the computer science behind these technologies: CAD tools, file formats, slicing algorithms; 3) Hands-on experience with SolidWorks, laser cutting, and 3D printing, culminating in student projects (e.g. artistic creations, functional objects, replicas of famous calculating...

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Reality Computing II

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

Launching Spring 2016. Course description coming soon.

Spring 2016 instructor: Pyry Matikainen

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.

Rich, in-depth design and application hardware project experience in the areas of digital communications and/or signal processing systems using DSP hardware.
Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Digital Storytelling & Resistance is a class in which students will explore the ways in which artists today use contemporary technology to create complex alternative stories...
Offered by: Art
This IDeATe-affiliated course serves as an introduction to the fundamental concepts, processes, and procedures to utilize digital and traditional equipment within the IDeATe@Hunt Library facilities.
Offered by: Art
An introduction to the computer as a dynamic tool for time-based media production.
Offered by: Art
An introduction to software programming and physical computing within the context of the arts.
Offered by: Art
Students will research the history of the Themed Entertainment Industry and study key phases including conceptualization, design, building, management and delivery involved in creating the total themed entertainment experience.
Offered by: Entertainment Technology
This is an advanced studio course in arts-engineering and new media practice, with a special emphasis on information visualization and software art.
Offered by: Art
This class offers students hands-on experiences of DIY product design and fabrication processes
Offered by: College of Engineering
This mini will introduce you to research and theory on how to create effective teams.
Offered by: English
Themed Entertainment Design (TED) Studio A, is a combination lecture and studio course which focuses on executing a client event from concept to delivery.
Offered by: Entertainment Technology


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
15-104 is an introduction to fundamental computing principles and programming techniques for creative cultural practices, with special consideration to applications in music, design and the visual arts. Intended for students with little to no prior programming experience, the course develops skills and understanding of text-based programming in a procedural style.
Engineering / Computer Science Students
The course is an introduction to basic principles for the creation of digitally mediated content. The course is aimed towards students from science and engineering disciplines who have limited exposure to content analysis and authoring.


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

Lowry Burgess
School of Art
Media Design
Jodi Forlizzi
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Media Design
Suguru Ishizaki
Department of English
Media Design
David Kaufer
Department of English
Media Design
Golan Levin
School of Art
Media Design
Andreea Ritivoi
Department of English
Media Design
Larry Shea
School of Drama
Media Design
Ralph Vituccio
Entertainment Technology Center
Media Design
Marianne Weems
School of Drama
Media Design
John Zimmerman
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Media Design