Carnegie Mellon University


Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

IDeATe Portal & Course Section Details

The portal courses serve as cross-training courses for interdisciplinary work. This cross training allows you to better understand the disciplinary competencies and perspectives of the students that you will be collaborating with through a design inquiry process.

Each portal course is the suggested entry into one of the unique disciplines on offer as minors at IDeATe. For example, the portal course for a Physical Computing minor would be 60-223 Introduction to Physical Computing

Individual portal courses may be a specific course section under one code, e.g. 62-150 A, 62-150 B, 62-150 C. This page disambiguates portal courses by providing individual section details like a course description and goals.  

Portal Courses

18-090 Twisted Signals: Multimedia Processing for the Arts

This course presents an overview on manipulating and synthesizing sound, video, and control signals. Signals are the raw materials used in many forms of electronic art and design - electronic music, interactive art, video art, kinetic sculpture, and more. In these fields, signals are used to represent information about sound, images, sensors, and movement. By transforming and manipulating these types of signals, we are able to create powerful new tools for digital art, multimedia applications, music, responsive environments, video and sound installation, smart products, and beyond. In this course we will study Signal Processing from a practical point-of-view, developing tools that can be easily integrated into art-making using the graphical programming environment Max (a.k.a. Max/MSP/Jitter). We will present a survey of Signal Processing techniques used in the sonic and visual arts, and will discuss the mathematical theories underlying these techniques. Students will be encouraged to combine, modify, and extend working examples of software to create original digital artworks.

16-223 IDeATe Portal: Creative Kinetic Systems

The art and science of machines which evoke human delight through physical movement is founded on a balance of form and computation. This introductory physical computing course addresses the practical design and fabrication of robots, interactive gadgets, and kinetic sculptures. The emphasis is on creating experiences for human audiences through the physical behavior of devices which embody computation with mechanism, sensing, and actuation. Specific topics include basic electronics, elementary mechanical design, embedded programming, and parametric CAD. A key objective is gaining an intuitive understanding of how information and energy move between the physical, electronic, and computational domains to create a compelling behavior. The final projects are tested in the field on children and adults. 

This interdisciplinary course is an IDeATe Portal Course open to students from all colleges. For students choosing to follow an IDeATe program it is an entry into either Physical Computing or Intelligent Environments. The structure of the class revolves around collaborative exercises and projects which introduce core physical computing and system engineering techniques in a human-centric context. Students apply system and design thinking across multiple domains, work together to make and test several devices, and participate in wide-ranging critique which considers both technical and artistic success.

60-125 IDeATe: Introduction to 3D Animation Pipeline

This class will explore computer animation as it pertains to a professional animation production pipeline. The course is designed to give students exposure to key job descriptions that align to the animation industry. Topics covered include: character design, world building, storyboarding, digital sculpture, look development, rigging, layout, animation, cinematography, lighting, and rendering. These topics are taught in 2-4 week sprints that allow a student to learn the fundamentals of each craft. In a mixture of class lectures, critiques, and training workshops, students will become acquainted with the necessary skills needed to create their own characters and animations. By completion of the course, students will be familiar with industry-standard best practices and ready to take advanced courses related to animation, vfx, and video game related pipelines. This course specifically offers insight on how the craft of animation is always evolving at top studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, and Industrial Light and Magic.

60-223 Introduction to Physical Computing

This practical project-based course covers the basic technical skills (including electronics, programming, and hardware) needed to build simple interactive objects with embedded behavior using the Arduino microcontroller. A sequence of projects challenge students to apply their technical skills in creative ways. For the final project, the class works with a local group of people living with disabilities who serve as design clients; students conjure and build them functioning custom interactive assistive devices of a practical or whimsical nature. Sensor inputs covered include an ultrasonic ranger, thermometer, light sensor, and human inputs like buttons and knobs; outputs to affect the world include actuators such as motors, LED lights, speakers, and haptic feedback devices.

This introductory portal course has no technical prerequisites. Readings and guest speakers address topics including design, disability, and e-waste. See for examples of prior student projects.

Contact with any questions about the course.

Students are encouraged to co-register for a fabrication course such as the micro course 99-353 IDeATe CAD and Laser Cutting or the course 62-478 digiTOOL.

62-150 IDeATe Portal: Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis

Section A - Introduction to textile media

This section of Media Synthesis focuses on textile media and presents students with technical, historical and conceptual grounding in this medium. Students learn the basics of textile processes, including weaving, sewing, digital printing on fabric, surface manipulation, embellishment, piece-work, quilting, and patterns. Technical explorations, complimented by the study of historic precedent and contemporary practice, supports students in exploring textiles as an expressive medium. Students' course work will include projects, sampling and prototyping, critique, and presentations.

62-150 IDeATe Portal: Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis


This section of Media Synthesis focuses on Mediascapes with respect to 2D to 3D Spatial Environments. Students will beasked to actively participate as they discuss, analyze, define, and apply theory to their projects. Theywill also be asked to investigate precedent and existing experiences to remix and make new.Imagination, speculation, and 360-degree awareness are key components of this class. Over thecourse, students will work on projects that build upon their knowledge to showcase their intentionsand creativity within and reacting to a variety of contexts. Students with a diverse range of skills andinterests are encouraged to apply. This is a project-based class with a focus on experimentations,hands-on learning, reflection, and documentation.

62-150 IDeATe Portal: Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis


In this section of Media Synthesis—part geographical research, part technological exploration, and part design studio—students explore a range of visualization tools and work in small teams to tell engaging, spatially rich stories for a multimedia atlas of the social, environmental, and political impacts of life in an era of ubiquitous computing.

Starting from a data-driven infrastructure, students will create and showcase compelling visual stories that survey the uneven conditions through which that system is made and maintained. In the wake of industrial factories, students will explore how to tell the stories of today’s digital factories by using data visualizations, maps, videos, apps, or other media.

99-361 A IDeATe Portal: Learning about Learning

Learning about Learning will provide an introduction to the science of learning. Students will learn about the different ways that people learn, the factors that influence learning, and how to apply this knowledge to their own learning and in designing learning experiences. The course will cover a variety of topics, including memory, motivation, creativity, and cognition. Students will also have the opportunity to apply what they learn. In small groups, students will complete a series of small projects focused on identifying learning experiences and developing technology-mediated interventions, designs, or prototypes.

99-361 B IDeATe Portal: Intelligent Environments

This hands-on, project-based course seeks to introduce students to the issues and challenges of creating workable, affordable, and adaptable intelligent environments. Intelligent environments use modern technology (information systems, electronic sensing, physical computing, etc.) to enhance the human-space interactive experience, be it in home, office, industry, entertainment, agriculture, etc. This course will highlight the motivation and requirements for intelligent environments and components that could be used to add functionality to existing environments. You will apply relevant technologies (Arduino, automated manufacturing, 3D modeling, etc.) to the built environment through the design and fabrication of working prototypes. The course will further enhance team management, documentation, and presentation skills through practical exercises and assignments