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Nadya Peek's Research Group Archive

The following research group descriptions are archived because they are no longer offered, the faculty member is on sabbatical, or the group is taking a break. Please contact the faculty member or an advisor to learn more about these groups.

Memes of Production

Computer-Numerically Controlled tools have been around for more than half a century, but have only recently been taken up by users not considered professional technicians. CAD tools as a commodity and the popularization of 3D printers in particular have led to new groups of users participating in digital fabrication. In this reading group, we will explore contemporary practices of digital fabrication, the prototype-production spectrum, end-user fabrication tools, distributed production, open source hardware, and related topics. In our analysis we will draw from Science and Technology Studies methodology to delineate between the promises and practices described in the readings.

While this reading group is mainly focused on fabrication research, we will also include related readings from computer-supported cooperative work, online communities, computer graphics, and media studies. We might also sometimes read field bus specifications or other technical documentation.

After the first week, students will be expected to lead discussions on the readings. We will produce annotated bibliographies to help contextualize fabrication research and ground our own design and engineering practices. Students who are not prepared to complete the readings, lead discussions, and produce their own bibliographies should not apply. The schedule will have one hour of discussion plus two hours of assigned reading a week.

Fabricatable machines: rapid prototyping of rapid prototyping machines

This fall and winter we will be exploring machine making. Digital fabrication tools such as 3D printers or desktop mills are becoming more accessible. Can we use these digital fabrication tools to make our own custom versions? We will be building machines using open-source repositories such as the cardboard machine kit or fabricatable machines to rapidly prototype digital fabrication machines using digital fabrication machines.

Brief schedule

We will spend time on parametric design in Grasshopper and Fusion, machine building methods with laser cutters and CNC mills, machine control using GRBL and PyGestalt, and interface design.

Required experience

This DRG requires experience running digital fabrication equipment including CNC mills and laser cutters, experience with motor control and G-code, experience with CAD software such as Rhino, Solidworks or Fusion, and basic Python or bash scripting. Ideally students are already safety trained for the CoMotion maker space including Shopbot training.

Designing a Radical Module for Engineering Education

Spring 2018

Co-directed by Nadya Peek and Daniela Rosner

This project uses a collaborative design workshop to introduce students to absent histories of engineering. We will develop a toolkit for middle and high school classrooms that introduces the story of early 1960s core memory weavers.

The Making Core Memory project is a design inquiry into the invisible work that went into assembling core memory, an early form of computer information storage initially woven by hand. Throughout the first two decades of the Cold War, magnetic-core memory was the principal mechanism with which computers stored and retrieved information. The computers for the Apollo mission stored information in core memory ropes—threaded wires, passed through or around magnetized metal rings. NASA engineers nicknamed this hardware “LOL memory” for the “little old ladies” who carefully wove wires around the electro-magnetic ferrite cores by hand. 

The kits we will develop comprise a simple metal matrix, beads and conductive threads (in place of ferrite core and wire) and simulate the collaborative weaving of one of the world's first portable computers. By introducing students to the kits and the story of the core memory weavers, a group we believe comprised many women of color, we help rewrite engineering histories to highlight key computational know-how contributed by groups underrepresented within engineering fields today. 

Required Availability

  • Register for 2 to 3 credits for spring quarter. Indicate availability for additional quarters (not required).

  • Meet for 2 hours each week.

  • Work 4 to 6 hours each week outside of meetings.

Required Experience

Participants in this DRG must have at least one of the following skills and experiences:

  1. Outreach coordination

    • Experience interviewing and using qualitative research methods such as fieldwork observation

  2. Visual and interaction design

    • Experience with design and branding, Adobe Illustrator or the like, web development

  3. Maker mindset

    • Familiar with the UW CoMmotion makerspace and digital prototyping tools