Course Syllabus

Des Inv 190E: Interactive Device Design
10:00-12:15 TuTh 210 Jacobs Hall
Summer 2018, UC Berkeley. CCN:15622 (4 units)

This course teaches concepts and skills required to design, prototype, and fabricate interactive devices -- that is, physical objects that intelligently respond to user input and enable new types of interactions. The first half of the semester will be dedicated to a survey of relevant techniques in 3D modeling and fabrication; electronics and circuit board design; sensing and actuation for interaction; embedded software development, wired and wireless communication with mobile devices, computers, and networks; and user interface programming. In the second half of the semester, students will propose and carry out a significant design project. We encourage students to work on projects in CITRIS focus areas: health, energy technologies, connected communities, people and robots; PhD students can also explore projects related to their area of research after consultation with us. 

Class sessions will alternate between concepts and experiential learning. Classes will be held in 210 Jacobs Hall.


  • Programming experience required: You will program embedded systems for this course. You should be able to pick up a new language and API (with some help from us). Knowing the equivalent of the CS61A-C series at Berkeley should be sufficient.
  • User Interface Design experience very useful: Your projects will have both software and hardware user interfaces. Some background in user interface design, e.g., INFO290 Tangible Interaction or CS160 User Interface Design is valuable.
  • 3D modeling skills very useful, but not required: You will model and fabricate parts on our FDM machines. If you want to get a head start, learn how to use Fusion 360, but we'll also have a tutorial.
  • Some electronics experience useful, but not required: You will build basic sensing and actuation circuits. The threshold for doing this has decreased rapidly in recent years, but you will be soldering your own electronics. If you have taken the equivalent of EE16A or have built projects using Arduino boards before, you'll be fine.

If you have no programming background, you should not take this course. If you do not have experience in at least one of (UI design, 3D modeling, electronics) you should not take this course. You must be comfortable with learning a sizable set of new tools and processes, quickly.

Course Information

Instructors: Eldon Schoop
Jacobs Hall Design Specialists: Mary Catherine Richardson, Gary Gin, Chris Parsell, Kent Wilson.

Office Hours:
Eldon: by appointment

Piazza Group (for any course-related questions):
If you have a technical question about your homework or project, please ask the class first through this group. For individual, class-related issues, use the private messaging feature on Piazza to reach all course staff. Do not send us individual email.

Lab Fee: Students will be expected to get a Jacobs Hall Maker Pass. The regular Maker Pass is $75. Students with demonstrated financial need can get a fee waiver. Expect additional out-of-pocket expenses for electronics and consumables for your class project.
Lab Hours (Jacobs Hall): Consult the Jacobs Hall Access page.

Class Meeting Times: TuTh 10:00am-12:15pm, 210 Jacobs Hall

Textbook: There is no required textbook for this class. There will be readings assigned for many lectures. The readings will be available online in bCourses. You may have to submit reading responses for those readings through bCourses assignments.

Course Policies

Late assignments policy: Late team assignments will not be accepted. Late individual assignments (with the exception of reading responses, detailed below) will receive a penalty of 15% per late day.

Required readings policy: Many lectures, especially in the beginning, have required reading responses due before the beginning of class. Due to the fast-paced nature of this class, the grading policy for these assignments is as follows:

  • All reading responses are assigned a grace period of 2 days. This means reading responses turned in within 48 hours after the due date are still eligible for full marks.
  • Reading responses turned in before the posted due date will receive one extra credit point.
  • Submissions after the grace period, even by one minute, will forfeit all points and earn a zero.

Note that the schedule and assignments below are still tentative and will be updated for this year's offering. The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus at any time, without prior notice.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due