Carnegie Mellon University


Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Portal Courses

15-104 Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice

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, including idioms of sequencing, selection, iteration, and recursion. Topics include data organization (arrays, files, trees), interfaces and abstraction (modular software design, using sensor data and software libraries), basic algorithms (searching and sorting), and computational principles (randomness, concurrency, complexity). Intended for students following an IDeATe concentration or minor who have not taken 15-112.

60-212 Electronic Media Studio: Interactivity and Computation for Creative Practice

This is an intermediate level course in "creative coding," interactive new-media art, and computational design. Ideal as a second course for students who have already had one semester of elementary programming (in any language), this course is for you if you’d like to use code to make art, design, architecture, and/or games -- AND you’re already familiar with the basics of programming, such as for() loops, if() statements, and arrays.

This course satisfies the EMS-2 (60-210: Interactivity) requirement for BFA and BXA-Art majors. As with EMS-2, students in this course will develop an understanding of the contexts, tools, and idioms of software programming in the arts. Unlike EMS-2, this course additionally satisfies the computing portal requirement for CFA students pursuing IDeATe minors and concentrations. (Students with no prior programming experience should register instead for 15-104, 15-110, or 15-112.)

This is a "studio art course in computer science," in which the objective is art and design, but the medium is student-written software. The course develops skills and understanding of text-based, imperative programming techniques in a variety of popular open-source arts-engineering toolkits, including p5.js (JavaScript), Processing (Java), and openFrameworks (C++), with the aim of applying such skills to interactive art and design, information visualization, generative media, and other creative cultural practices.

Rigorous programming exercises will develop the basic vocabulary of constructs that govern static, dynamic, and interactive form. Topics include the computational manipulation of: point, line and shape; texture, value and color; time, change and motion; reactivity, connectivity and feedback; interactive graphics, sound, and simulation; and the incorporation of various modes of input (sensors, cameras) and multimedia output.

Programs: Animation & Special Effects, Game Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Learning Media, Media Design, Sound Design

Offered by: Art

62-150 Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis

New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers and technologists as well as critical reflection on distribution, participation, interaction and audience. This course is designed to prepare engineers and scientists to work in these contexts. By the end of the course, students will be able to think critically across several media theory paradigms; formulate the intent of their creative work; articulate relationships to art/design practice and theory; and respond insightfully to creative outcomes. The goal is not just to make creative media rich outcomes but also to think critically about their production.

The class will introduce core concepts through foundational texts, in-class exercises, collaborative projects, and group critique. Students will ground concepts such as critical design, computational performance, embodiment, emergence, composition, participatory interfaces, and media editing through hands-on, applied exploration. Weekly lab sessions will also support the development of new skills and practical development of digitally mediated content.

Fall 2017 instructor: Nina Barbuto

Program: Animation & Special Effects Game Design Learning Media Media Design Sound Design

Offered by: College of Fine Arts

Collaborative and Supportive Courses

16-456/48-558 Advanced Topics in Reality Computing: The Adaptive Home

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, and influence the design of houses yet to be built through full scale prototyping. The objective of the course will be the production of a house that moves beyond the notion of being "smart," but is actively adapted towards its inhabitants' needs and capabilities. Topics of special focus within the course are residential design (John Folan), augmented reality and robotics (Pyry Matikainen), and indoor flying robots (Manuela Veloso and Nina Barbuto). This course is presented with the support and cooperation of Autodesk, Inc. (Please note that there may be lab/materials fees associated with this course.)

Fall 2016 instructors: Pyry Matikainen, John Folan

Fall 2015 course website:

Programs: Intelligent Environments, Media Design, Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

18-551 Digital Communication and Signal Processing Systems Design

This course provides the student with a rich, in-depth design and application hardware project experience in the areas of digital communications and/or signal processing systems using DSP hardware. Teams of students work on a semester-long project of their choice. Topics include: speech and music processing, digital communications, multimedia processing, data compression, data storage, wireless communications, CD, image and/or signal processing, etc. One month of introductory laboratories familiarize the students with DSP hardware and support software. Lectures address z-transforms, IIR and FIR filter design using MATLAB and DSP hardware, LPC and adaptive filters, channel coding, time and frequency multiplexing, short time Fourier and wavelet transforms, and spread spectrum techniques. 4 hrs. lec., 3 hrs. lab.

Spring 2015 instructors: Marios Savvides and Thomas Sullivan

Programs: Media Design, Physical Computing

Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering

60-427 Digital Storytelling and Resistance

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 to dominant media narratives as well as the ways in which video, film, performance and media artists have historically used documentary and appropriation as a way to resist, respond, and deconstruct one-dimensional news media and pop cultural stories. In this course students will create video essays, remix and appropriation-based works, hyperlinked interactive stories, modded games, and interactive moving-image based narrative works through new multimedia publishing platforms.

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Art

62-478 digiTOOL

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. After completion, participating students should leave with a thorough understanding of laser cutting/engraving, 3D printing, CNC routing, and traditional woodworking equipment/processes; and how to operate in a safe, responsible, and efficient manner. This comprehension and experience proves useful for all creative disciplines, and participants are certified for future fabrication equipment access.

Programs: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Media Design, Physical Computing

Offered by: College of Fine Arts

60-110 Electronic Media Studio I

Electronic Media Studio: Introduction to the Moving Image is an introduction to the computer as a dynamic tool for time-based media production.  In this course students develop skills in digital video and audio production through the exploration of narrative, experimental, performance, documentary and animation themes and forms. Historical and contemporary works are presented and discussed to provide a context for studio projects.

Fall 2014 instructor: Scott Andrew

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Art

60-210 Electronic Media Studio II

Electronic Media Studio: Introduction to Interactivity is an introduction to software programming and physical computing within the context of the arts. In this course students develop the skills and confidence to produce interactive artworks using audiovisual, networked and tangible media.  This fall, Section A (taught by Golan Levin) has a partial emphasis on generative form and interactive visualization. Section B (taught by Rich Pell) has an emphasis on interactive sound and light. Section C (taught by Paolo Pedercini) has an emphasis on interactive game design.

Fall 2016 instructors: Paolo Pedercini

Fall 2014 course website: Electronic Media Studio (Interactivity)

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Art

54-498/60-446 Expanded Theater

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 in new and culturally relevant ways. Collaboration and integration of design, media and storytelling is critical to this approach. Experimentation with new forms can reanimate the basic values of theater; the essential nature of a live event, the possibility of visionary spectacle, and the creation of meaning in dialogue with an audience.

Expanded Theater is an opportunity to explore avenues outside of traditional theatrical production modes and beyond each student's individual discipline. The curriculum combines resources from Carnegie Mellon's Schools of Art and Drama, Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe), the Emerging Media Masters (EM2), Computer Science, the Robotics Institute, and their collaborators across the university in a new configuration. Expanded Theater will explore domains ranging from site specific and networked-based performance and interventionist practices, to pervasive social media technologies and their influence on interpersonal communication. The goal is to investigate contemporary languages that allow authors, actors and technologists to collaborate in ways that push beyond our present understanding of theatrical production and reception.

Fall 2016 instructors: Ali Momeni and Larry Shea

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design

Offered by: Art, Drama

53-312 Guest Experience and Theme Park Design

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. The class will focus on the importance of creating the total guest experience. Discussions on story and storytelling will address the different aspects of both franchise and original stories. The class will also examine the role of architecture and technology and how they are crafted to enhance the overall guest experience. The importance of communication and collaboration across all disciplines and the high professional standards required in every phase in the entertainment industry will be explored. The process of managing creativity, risking taking, fostering a culture of team support and trust, developing presentation skills and providing valuable peer-review will all be part of the curriculum. Students will individually complete a variety of short assignments, research and presentations. Students will also work in teams made up of various disciplines and backgrounds. Assignments will include evaluation of experiences in existing theme parks; proposing a concept for a ride or experience deriving inspiration from a list of options provided by faculty; and developing a design project such as an expansion to an existing theme park, a new restaurant, hotel or other architecture added to an existing complex, a new event or attraction which would include a water, sound and light spectacle or a large scale Disney parade event. Students and faculty will jointly choose design assignments based on the needs, interest and composition of the class. The constantly evolving nature of the industry will provide opportunities for topics of discussion which will be identified by both faculty and students.

Spring 2016 instructor: Shirley Saldamarco

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Entertainment Technology

62-207 IDeATe: Variational Geometry I

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.

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Architecture

51-236 Information 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 perspectives, join in discussions to develop shared understanding, give presentations to communicate your thinking, complete tutorials and learn software for additional insight. These activities will lead to you being able to: describe the importance of context and audience to design decisions to set the stage for creating work that addresses the people that it serves, frame a problem to be solved to identify challenges that require design improvements, synthesize information collected in project framing to establish a logical direction for your design approach, ideate a range of concepts to consider various ways of addressing the task at hand, iterate select concepts through low to high fidelity prototyping to determine which concepts hold the most merit, visualize your ideas to communicate concepts clearly and aid learning and understanding of information, evaluate concepts in progress to identify areas that could use improvement, present and argue design solutions to strengthen the description and validation of your work.

Spring 2015 instructor: Michael Mages

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Design

15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies

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 machines, etc.). Please note that there will be a usage/materials fee for this course.

Fall 2016 instructor: David Touretzky

Spring 2016 course website: 15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies

Program: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: Computer Science

15-394 Intermediate Rapid Prototyping

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

Program: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: Computer Science

76-374 Mediated Narrative

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 programming. Students will be encouraged to think about digital interactive media not just in terms of technology but also considering broader issues such as verbal and visual language, design, information architecture, communication and community.

Program: Media Design

Offered by: English

67-240 Mobile Web Design and Development

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

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Information Systems

16-457/48-559 Reality Computing II

Launching Spring 2016. Course description coming soon.

Spring 2016 instructor: Pyry Matikainen

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: Architecture, Robotics Institute

16-375/54-375 Robotics for Creative Practice

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 topics include systems thinking, dynamic physical and computational behavior, autonomy, and embedded programming. Discussion topics include both contemporary kinetic sculpture and robotics research. Interested students without the specific prerequisites should contact the instructor.

Fall 2016 instructor: Garth Zeglin

Fall 2016 course website: Robotics for Creative Practice

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: Drama, Robotics Institute

24-672 Special Topics in DIY Design and Fabrication

The traditional principles of mass production are being challenged by concepts of highly customized and personalized goods. A growing number of do-it-yourself (DIY) inventors, designers, makers, and entrepreneurs is accelerating this trend. This class offers students hands-on experiences of DIY product design and fabrication processes. Over the course of a semester, students work individually or in small groups to design a customized and personalized product of their own and build it using various DIY fabrication methods, including 3D laser scanning, 3D printing, laser cutting, vacuum forming, etc. Students develop multiple prototypes throughout the semester, iterating and refining their design.

Fall 2015 instructor: Kenji Shimada

Program: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Media Design Physical Computing

Offered by: College of Engineering

76-285 Team Communication

This mini will introduce you to research and theory on how to create effective teams. In it, you will learn: - leadership strategies for managing projects and getting everyone to contribute to their best capacity - interpersonal skills for negotiating team conflict - communication strategies for working with individuals from very different professional and cultural backgrounds. - techniques for fostering trust and inspiring team innovation and creativity - how to use technology to manage teams that are geographically separated Professor Joanna Wolfe has been studying student and professional technical teams for fifteen years and is the author of multiple books and award-winning articles on team communication. This course will be hands-on with assigned readings and video cases that are discussed in class with plenty of opportunities to role-play different communication strategies and techniques.

Program: Animation & Special Effects Game Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship Intelligent Environments Learning Media Media Design Physical Computing Sound Design

Offered by: English

53-642 Themed Entertainment Design Studio

Themed Entertainment Design (TED) Studio A, is a combination lecture and studio course which focuses on executing a client event from concept to delivery. Students will be assigned to teams which will meet during set course studio hours. Additional meeting times will be required outside of studio hours. The class will provide students with knowledge and experience in conceiving, planning, designing, analyzing, and executing themed events. The class will also explore the analytics of the experience. Lectures and discussions will focus on the importance of theming, guest experience, thru put and safety. Existing events and installations will be used as case studies. There will be two projects completed by the entire class over the semester. (1) The class, as a team, will work with an existing client and provide a pre-show experience for guests attending a public event. As part of this project, the class will work with the client to see how the event is put together, advertised, executed, and then fully analyze the flow and thru put of the event and overall guest reaction to the experience; (2) The class, as a team, will work with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) as their client to organize, execute, and analyze use of the ETC spaces during the Building Virtual Worlds Festival.

Fall 2016 instructor: Shirley Saldamarco

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Entertainment Technology

Archived Courses

51-380 Experiential Media

Offered in Spring 2015, Experiential Media Design focused on the theory, methodology and history behind the design, development and interpretation of experiential media systems. The class incorporated a multidisciplinary approach to the study of complex media systems as technological, political, economic, socio-cultural and personal experiences. Topics covered included media and communications theory, cultural studies, qualitative and quantitative methodology, design principles, human-computer-interaction, information visualization and representation, user studies and evaluation. Students created and critiqued a variety of integrated media systems demonstrating technical competence, aesthetic knowledge, analytic rigor and theoretical relevance. This class was open to Junior & Senior Design Majors, and others by permission of the instructor.

Spring 2015 instructor: Aisling Kelliher

Program: Media Design

Offered by: Design

60-441 Urban Intervention

This course introduces students to theories, practices, and communities for critical investigation of urban spaces and play within them.  

The course unfolds along two parallel trajectories: research (literature review, lectures, readings, demonstrations) and design (three iterated individualized projects and a fourth larger scale final project).  The first half of the course will introduce students to a wide range of theories and techniques within urban intervention that draw from fluxus, the situationist international, activism and hacktivism, as well as public policy, philosophy, psychology and economics.  Students will study theoretical and practical frameworks for artistic intervention into public urban spaces, while concurrently researching actual sites and communities within Pittsburgh for experimentation.  Students are required to conceptualized projects on larger (urban) scales, and find ways to implement their projects safely and legally by pursuing the necessary administrative, social, technical, financial steps required to create meaningful interventions in public spaces.  

This class will specifically explore three media for urban intervention:  

  • Sound
  • Outdoor video projection
  • Robotics, Autonomy and Mobility in the way of remote control vehicles (e.g. cars, quad-copters, etc.).

For each theme, students are required to produce one project that is iterated twice or more.

The undergraduate (60441) and graduate (60741) sections of the course meet concurrently and follow the same syllabus and assignments.  In addition to the coursework documented in the syllabus, Graduate level students are expected to write a research paper suitable for submission to a notable relevant academic conference. This process includes a rough draft, revisions and a completed and formatted paper ready for submission.

Spring 2015 instructor: Ali Momeni

Program: Intelligent Environments Media Design

Offered by: Art

18-099 Mobile App Design and Development

IDeATe is partnering with YinzCam to develop and offer a studio course on mobile app design and development. The course will leverage the extensive expertise of YinzCam on mobile-app development in the sports and entertainment space, both for real-time and asynchronous enrichment of the fan experience and the stadium experience. However, the lessons learned will apply to mobile-app development broadly. Issues covered will include cross-platform development, mobile video, streaming media, real-time content delivery, along with best practices in server-side cloud management for large-scale mobile-app deployment. Please note that this course is for students to take as one of their IDeATe concentration/minor options and will NOT fulfill a CIT/ECE requirement. Open to juniors and seniors. DC and MCS students should take the course after completing another IDeATe collaborative course.

Fall 2016 instructor: Priya Narasimhan

Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering