Carnegie Mellon University


Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Physical Computing

Computing was once an occasion, an event. It happened in a dedicated space for a limited amount of time. Over the last few decades, the barriers between computing devices and their users have slowly dissolved. The physical world is becoming a key interface for computing and the internet of things is becoming the next generation of connectivity.

Students in the Physical Computing concentration will explore the technical, experiential, and semantic issues of this evolution. They will address the key components of physical computing; from the fabrication of the interface and the development of the circuitry to the integration of component elements within different contexts. The embedding contexts range from mobile to the build environment and new creative practice instruments. The concentration works in tandem with the Intelligent Environments concentration allowing students to combine courses across these two concentrations with the assistance of their advisors.

Physical Computing Minor - Five Courses

One Portal course

  • 16-223 IDeATe Portal: Creative Kinetic Systems
  • 60-223 IDeATe Portal:  Introduction to Physical Computing
  • 99-361C IDeATe Portal: Storytelling with Machines

Four Collaborative and Supportive Courses

  • 05-540/18-540 Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems
  • 15-294 Rapid Prototyping Technologies
  • 15-394 Intermediate Rapid Prototyping
  • 16-374/60-428 Art of Robotic Special Effects
  • 16-375/54-375 Robotics for Creative Practice
  • 16-455/48-530 Human-Machine Virtuosity
  • 16-456/48-558 Reality Computing
  • 18-551 Digital Communication and Signal Processing Systems Design
  • 18-578 Mechatronic Design
  • 24-672 Special Topics in DIY Design and Fabrication
  • 39-245 Rapid Prototype Design
  • 48-339 Making Things Interactive
  • 48-390 Physical Computing Studio
  • 48-528 Responsive Mobile Environments
  • 48-559/53-559 Reality Computing II
  • 48-734 Reactive Spaces and Media Architecture
  • 60-412 Interactive Art and Computational Design
  • 62-315 Breeding Architecture: Computational Techniques for Shaping the Built Environment
  • 62-478 digiTOOL
  • 76-285 Team Communication

Note: Students also have the option of taking one Collaborative or Supportive course from one of the other IDeATe areas as an elective for their Physical Computing minor.

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

Physical Computing Faculty

The Physical Computing faculty represent Carnegie Mellon's expertise in Architecture, Art, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, and Robotics. They carefully oversee the collaboration of students while delivering the IDeATe Physical Computing courses.