Course Info


Some basic programming and fabrication experience is strongly recommended.


By application. Selected by instructors.


  • A Maker Pass for accessing prototyping and electronics labs in Jacobs Hall and the CITRIS Invention Lab
  • A personal laptop capable of running the required software suite of programing and design tools
  • The DET Materials Kit which contains standardized electronics hardware required to complete the projects and studio exercises throughout class. The DET Kit, can be purchased  through the Jacobs Institute Store and is priced at-cost at $110.
  • A Google Cloud account. Students will be provided with a limited budget for use with class assignments.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Upon completing this course, students will:

  • Have strengthened their core design skills, including sketching and visual communication, physical and digital prototyping of products, services, and experiences, user research and testing.
  • Be comfortable working across common technology “stacks”
  • Understand the ecosystems that govern how today’s products and services are developed, manufactured, deployed and scaled (contract manufacturing and assembly, cloud platforms, everything as a service)
  • Have developed an individual and critical perspective on design and technology, and be able to go beyond hype to assess the viability and worthiness of new technologies
  • Be able to work within teams toward common design project goals that require coordination, project planning skills, and conflict management
  • Demonstrate proficiently in presenting work through a variety of formats
  • Be able to lead, participate, and give design critiques


DET begins with an intensive pre-module on digital fabrication and Raspberry Pi technologies. Afterwards, the course is separated into four “blocks”: perception, conversation, extra-real, and robots, each engage with a specific emerging technology as a design material. For each block (i.e. Perception, Conversation, Extra-Real, and Robots) students will progess across four stages:

  1. Encountering
  2. Materializing
  3. Designing
  4. Critiquing

The intention of DET is not to train students to engage with these four areas at a level at which they can make theoretical contributions. DET is an applied class, and as such, foundational investigations in each of these areas—e.g., how Google Cloud Vision is designed, trained, and updated to enable fast fine-grained image recognition and labeling functionalities—are not the focus of the class; the UC Berkeley Engineering curriculum offers several other touchpoints for this domain-specific knowledge. DET instead intends to give students the technical fluency, creative confidence, and problem-solving mindset to engage with new technologies as creative design materials. While we focus on four technologies in class, we expect students having completed the course to be able to apply the DET methodology and mindset to approach a wide range of emerging technologies, from synthetic biology to blockchain and beyond, as creative design materials.


This is a studio class with time devoted to lecture, discussion, practice activities, design worksessions, and critique of student work. This course will consist of a series of individual and team based projects.


Readings will be assigned throughout the semester. Everyone is expected to read the readings and complete an online reading response the night before the course readings are to be presented and discussed. One or two people will be selected for each reading to prepare a class presentation. Each student is expected to engage in class discussions when readings are assigned. This counts towards your class participation grade.


Work and performance in the course will be evaluated after each assignment and the Final Project. In addition, the process of exploration is as important as the final product, so it is important that students manage time well and devote time to working on the assignments during the course of a week. If class time is given as a worksession and is not put to good use, students’ grades will be penalized. For assignments done in teams, students will be graded on individual contributions as well as synthesis with the team. Work that is late will be decremented in grade. NOTE: This is a design class. Unlike most other technical classes there is not always a single “correct” design solution. Usually there are many possible designs with different advantages and disadvantages. In this class you will learn to both design artifacts and evaluate the pros and cons of the resulting interactive experience. Design is typically evaluated in a qualitative manner. As a result a significant portion of the grading in this class will be qualitative, including assessments of the end user experience of the system and the quality of your designs, evaluations, and prototypes. Overall how you engae with technologeis as acreative material will be critical to the overal evaluation of the work.


Grading is based on (1) Participation in assignments good use of class time: attendance, critiques, (NO multitasking), (2) problem selection, (3) rigorous design explorations, (4) quality of craftsmanship and level of completion, (5) quality of the team’s reflection and communication about a design solution and process. For projects done in teams, students will be graded on individual contributions as well as synthesis with the team. Work that is late will not be graded.

20% Attendance and participation
10% Individual Designs
45% Team Projects 1-3 (15% each)
25% Final project

Rules of Engagement

One of the main learning exercises in this course is the critique. We will be building this skill throughout the semester. Each of the assignments will be critiqued in class. Students are expected to participate fully in class critiques.

Be There – Critique days mandatory attendance. If you are not in class or late, we will deduct from your attendance grade. There will be no exceptions. Attendance of all classes is mandatory. You are allowed three absences for the semester without penalty (except critique days); thereafter you will receive zero credit for the missed studio. To receive an additional excused absence, you must ask in advance, and receive an acknowledgment from the instructor. Excusable absences include family emergencies, job interviews, and presenting at a conference. It does not include wanting to leave early for long weekend or vacation. To receive credit for attendance, you must arrive on time. No late assignments will be accepted.

Be Active – During the in class critique everyone is expected to be engaged in the discussion. Assignments, timely attendance, and in-class and team participation are a critical part of the grade. Bringing examples from outside of the class is considered to be an assignment and is also important.

Be Attentive – We will intimately engage with a range of electronics devices throughout the course and you are encouraged to often use such devices. However, at specific times you will be asked to put away various laptops, smartphones, and epidermal electronics. During those times, no laptops, phones, ingested technologies, electronics or other distracting devices are allowed to be used during critique and at other selected parts of class. Thank you in advance.


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