Prototyping and Design-Digital Making 2017

Guest Post by: Carter CarrollThis collection of posts refers to the Digital Making Class offered here at Illinois. Each week students are required to write down what they have learned through the week. Below is a summary for week 9 written by Carter Carroll.

With our class moving along with our team projects, week 9 was predominantly focused on moving forward with designing and creating prototypes of our products. Throughout the semester we have obtained a wide variety of learning experiences such as how to use 3D printing software such as TinkerCad/Fusion 360, how to program arduinos processing chips, and using the build capabilities at the campus Fab Lab. Having had weeks to begin to learn how use these tools allowed teams to think of ways to create and improve their product design.

In class, teams sketched out their first prototype designs of their product. After knowing what functionality we needed out of our products, we than made a materials list of all the components that would be necessary to obtain to make the product work. Each teams product covers a different area of 3D printing. Some products need arduinos, sensors, and have to be programmed through breadboards, while others could simply be 3D printed objects to solve a certain need. Each team is now in the works to create their first fully functioning version of the products. The class is very excited to start to create tangible versions of our prototypes through collaboration with 3D printers, the Fab Lab, and many other campus resources.

Overall, this week had a significant theme of the importance of the design of the product to fulfill a need. As one of the TED talks we listened to in class stated, “Design is best as an iterative process, the earlier you invite feedback, the more chances you have to revise and improve” (David Kelley Ideo). The design and creation of the prototype is the first step of many on the path to creating a successful product that end users will value. For many teams, creating the first prototype was challenging in not knowing exactly what the product looks like or in some cases even works. Ultimately, as Mr. David Kelley of Ideo highlights, the prototype is not meant to be perfect. In fact, the prototype is simply the first step in allowing our products more chances to be improved through feedback, trial and error. Week 9 was significant for teams to begin development on creating, designing, and moving forward with creating a useful product that fulfills a need. It will be exciting to see how the prototypes are developed, and refined in this last month of the semester!


Are you an undergraduate at Illinois and need a class for Spring 2018? Take Digital Making! Apply now by emailing your resume to, with a short note explaining your interest in the course and any skills/passions in making that you bring to the course. Application will be open until November 15th. And don't forget to stay tuned to MakerLab updates by liking us on Facebook, or following us on Twitter or Instagram.