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DSGN 495-21: Designing Product Interactions

Quarter Offered

Fall : Tuesday, 9am-12pm in the Ford Mechatronics Lab ; Craig Sampson & Nick Marchuk


This course is intended for graduate students in the MS Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program, though students from other programs will be considered if they demonstrate relevant experience and interest. Due to the interactive nature of the course, enrollment is limited. The course gives an opportunity for first and second year EDI students to work together, and second year EDI students are given enrollment preference. The instructors seek to create a diverse community of students with a range of skills and backgrounds, who will be organized into a variety of teams throughout the course. While there are no formal prerequisite courses, we expect students to have at least some experience in the design process, prototyping, and mechanical/electronic/mechatronic design. It is important to understand that this is a project-based course focusing on the design of interactions, and we will spend only limited time teaching mechatronic skills. Students with less experience in these areas should expect to devote time beyond the regular course activities to develop these skills. Interested students should submit a portfolio+resume and a statement of interest via email to the instructors no later than 9/17/2018. Students will be notified regarding their enrollment status by 9/19/2018, and permission numbers will be subsequently issued.


Why does that particular button make me feel more confident? Why are microsurgeons who are gamers better surgeons? Why is it nearly impossible to type on a tablet? Designing Product Interactions is an experimental course exploring these questions and bridging engineering design and perceptual psychology. This is where people and products come together. We will take a broad look at the “engineering of experiences,” combining a study of the physical properties and capabilities of objects, with a deeper understanding of how multiple human senses come together to create a human perception, or “experience.” We then use that knowledge to design new interactions that combine vision, hearing, and touch in compelling ways.

The class format includes guest lectures and instructor lectures, with a high degree of student involvement and discussion. Assignments include research and writing, but are primarily “demo projects” in which small teams will build working prototypes which demonstrate various interactions, and present these in class.

Learn more about the instructors, Craig Sampson and Nick Marchuk.

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