Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is a familiar concept to anyone who has worked in an art studio. After all, every artwork is a form of invention, created through vision and existing technologies and materials. Newly accessible tools, including laser cutters and 3D printers, are bringing this experimental and innovative approach to the forefront for both artistic and entrepreneurial purposes.

Drone Rover in Testing

Rapid prototyping allowed my student employees to respond quickly to a design challenge from Jon Western, who wanted his students to have the experience of controlling technology at distance for his American Foreign Policy course. Using left over hardware from HackHolyoke, we built a drone rover that students could control remotely and safely. The rover carries a cell phone as its communication hub, and responds to both on-screen color controls and infrared signals from a VCR remote control.

driving the drone rover

Students in the class also used the Makerspace to build and program simple beacons for their drones to seek out. They came away from the exercise impressed by how easy it is to build complex technologies with off-the-shelf components. Their firsthand experience also encouraged them to reflect on how operating at a distance can lessen feelings of personal responsibility, transforming even their own classmates into mere avatars.