Carnegie Mellon University


Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Soft Technologies

Soft technologies is an emerging field of robotics, the arts, craft, and engineering with far-reaching commercial, research, and social implications. Individual disciplines address components of this burgeoning field, but the IDeATe Soft Technologies minor helps students integrate the pieces to be able to make significant contributions to this developing sphere. Through the courses in the minor, students weave together a rich set of established and experimental techniques in traditional soft materials (such as fibers and textiles) and new soft materials (such as current hybrid and dynamic materials) to design and create a variety of forms with applications ranging from novel to practical. Students explore the unique qualities that soft material technologies afford in design and interaction in relationship to environments and the human body— responsiveness, adaptivity, flexibility, sensitivity, morphing, and biomimicry. Students will engage in project-based inquiry, using research, experimentation, making, and reflection to inform their creativity and to develop critical perspectives. Students will be able to envision their own projects and develop sensitivities to the breadth and limitations of soft technologies.

Through coursework in the minor, you will gain skills and competencies in: 

  • Manipulating traditional soft materials (such as fibers and textiles) and new soft materials (such as current  hybrid and dynamic materials).
  • Constructing 3-dimensional forms from 2-dimensional planes.
  • Articulating material and conceptual choices in discussions and critiques.
  • Analyzing the relationships between materials, form, use, and content integral to making.
  • Researching and engaging with contemporary and/or historical precedents in the field

Soft Technologies Minor - Minimum of 45 Units

One Computing Course - Minimum of 9 Units

  • 15-104 Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice
  • 15-110 Principles of Computing
  • 15-112 Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science
  • 60-212 Intermediate Studio: Creative Coding

One IDeATe Portal Course - Minimum of 9 Units

  • Recommended Portal Course for this minor:
    • 62-150 IDeATe Portal: Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis
      • Section A: Introduction to Textile Media
  • Recommended Portal Course for this minor:
    • 99-361 IDeATe Portal
      • Section A: Inflatables
  • 16-223 IDeATe Portal: Creative Kinetic Systems
  • 18-090 Twisted Signals: Multimedia Processing for the Arts
  • 53-322 IDeATe: Little Games/Big Stories: Indie Roleplaying Game Studio
  • 60-125 IDeATe: Introduction to 3D Animation Pipeline
  • 60-223 IDeATe Introduction to Physical Computing
  • 62-150 IDeATe Portal: Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis
    • Section B: Introduction to Mediascapes: 2D to 3D Spatial Environments
  • 82-250 Digital Realities: Introducing Immersive Technologies for Arts and Culture
  • 99-361 IDeATe Portal
    • Section B: Intelligent Environments
    • Section D: Learning About Learning

IDeATe Soft Technologies Courses - Minimum of 27 Units

  • 09-227 The Culture of Color: Dye, Chemistry, & Sustainability
  • 15-367 Algorithmic Textiles Design
  • 16-224 IDeATe: Re-Crafting Computational Thinking with Soft Technologies
  • 16-376 IDeATe: Kinetic Fabrics
  • 16-480 IDeATe: Creative Soft Robotics
  • 27-505 Exploration in Everyday Materials
  • 54-346 Introduction to Costume Construction
  • 54-486 Understanding Textiles
  • 60-496 Activated Anamorphs 
  • 62-3115 Shaping Environments: Experiments in Geometry and (Waste)Matter
  • Additional courses as available. Please check IDeATe Courses for the options for the current and upcoming semesters.
Double-counting: Students may double-count up to two of their IDeATe minor courses for other requirements.

Soft Technologies Faculty

The Soft Technologies faculty represent Carnegie Mellon's expertise in Art, Engineering, and Computer Science. They carefully oversee the collaboration of students while delivering the IDeATe Soft Technologies courses. Learn more about participating faculty here.