Broadening Participation in Tech: iDesign Studio

The iDesign Studio course originated as a First Year Seminar in the Fall of 2013, designed with co-creator Shani Mensing, as a way to demystify technology through hands-on labs and projects that emphasize innovation. B

It has since been a regular offering through the CS department and Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab. In 2015, it was offered as a 3-week summer workshop in 2015, supported by the Mass Life Sciences Center.

Course description

Designers are continually innovating ways of incorporating technology into today's world, from projections of butterflies on Grammy performance dresses to "smart" purses that sense a missing wallet. The recent emergence of low-cost, user-friendly components is making this new world of design accessible to a broad community.

In this course, students will think critically about products already in the marketplace and will be given the tools to create their own designs. A sequence of hands-on workshops on electronics basics and microcontroller programming will provide the surprisingly minimal level of comfort and background in technology required to produce prototypes of these designs.

A glimpse into the iDesign Studio


Short video (produced by eTown Videos) for the summer 2015 iDesign Workshop.


Presentation for AAC&U’s Crossing Boundaries: Transforming STEM Education, Seattle, WA, November 2015.

Peter Klemperer, Shani Mensing, Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Audrey St. John. iDesign Studio: Gateway to Innovation and Entrepreneurship via Incubation Curriculum. Proc. of International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces (ISAM 2017), Cleveland, Ohio, 2017.

Curricular materials

The iDesign curriculum is intended to be modular and adaptable: