Full Syllabus

tl;dr: Designing for the Internet of Things, Fall Mini-2 2023, Carnegie Mellon University

Course Prefix & Number 48-675 (6 units)
Meeting times Tuesday and Thurday
10:00-11.50 ET
Locations Hunt Library, A10 (Physical Computing)
Instructor Daragh Byrne
Teaching Assistants: Zhenfang Chen
Office Hours: By appointment.
Request by Calendly (see link on canvas).
Lab Content: DIoT Lab Site

Course Description

Thermostats, locks, power sockets, and lights are all being imbued with ‘smarts’ making them increasingly aware and responsive to their environment and users. This course will chart the emergence of the now ‘connected world’ to explore the possibilities for future products and connected spaces with the Internet of Things.This introductory, hands-on course invites students to creating connected products without any knowledge of programming, electronics or systems. Students will be introduced to interactive connected technologies through a series of hands on exercises, collaborative projects, in-depth discussions, and instructor led tutorials. Topics explored will include awareness, real-time sensing and communication, embedded intelligence, and designing experiences for the internet of things. By the end of this course, students will be familiar with the core skills, the considerations involved and design process required to build a connected system. Students will also apply this learning in collaborative groups to realize a prototype connected device.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course a student should:

A. Domain Knowledge

B. Practical Skills

C. Prototyping

D. Collaboration


There are no prerequisites for this course. The course will teach all core skills required, however, prior experience with programming interactive systems is highly desired and recommended.

Instructional Methods

Classes will involve lectures, labs, hands-on tutorials, discussions, critique sessions and workshops. Students will participate in and lead class discussion/presentations.

Course Structure

The course will meet each Tuesday and Thursday, 11.15-1.10 PM Eastern Time.

This 7-week course will iteratively introduce students to connected products, as follows. The first 5-weeks will offer a bootcamp on considering and developing for the internet of things. The final 2 weeks will offer an opportunity for students to apply this learning in a collaborative group project.

Bootcamp (5 weeks).

Each week will offer:

  1. Concepts: an introduction to concepts and considerations surrounding the Internet of things through readings, lectures, and in-class discussion

  2. Skills: self-paced labs will develop students skills in preparing connected products and cover hardware, software, electronics and other lab skills.

  3. Discussion and Critique: Concepts and Skills will be applied in short and focused design exercises and creative explorations which will then be critically examined through group discussion and critique.

Students will complete a weekly creative exercise to develop conceptual understanding, refine and acquire skills and receive feedback on their ideas. Students will also be expected to complete an annotated bibliography of the readings assigned during the semester to demonstrate their review and understanding.

Collaborative Project (2 weeks)

For the final two weeks, small teams will work together to identify a prospective idea for a connected product, prepare a working prototype and deliver supporting process and outcome documentation.

For the outcome Students will prepare:


Week Summary
1 (Oct 24) Introduction to IoT and Connected Products
2 (Oct 31) Design Approaches for Networked Devices
3 (Nov 7) Exploring Ambience and Tangible Data
4 (Nov 14) Envisioning Connectivity for Domestic Settings
5 (Nov 21) Considering Connectivity
6 (Nov 28) Looking to the Future
7 (Dec 5) IoT Ecosystems
8 (Dec 12) Final Presentations

Other Important dates:

Note: this schedule is subject to change.

Deliverables and Expected Outcomes

Grading and Assessment

Grades will be assigned based on the timely submission of assignments, reading responses, and active participation in class discussions and activities. Attendance is essential and unexcused absences will detract from your grade (see below).

Grades will be assigned based on work submitted through Canvas and/or digital pages for their work (Gallery pages,Google Doc, etc.). To facilitate marking all students are expected to prepare project pages on the Gallery which document the assigned projects and where regular assignments are posted (see http://ideate.xsead.cmu.edu). Instructions on submission will be provided on Canvas for each assignment. Students should review the assignment descriptions carefully.

All work must be submitted or presented by the deadline. Late work will result in a reduced grade.

This course will assign a mixture of independent and group based projects. For independent projects, all work submitted must represent a distinct product by that individual and may not be produced in partnership with any peer within the class. Group projects allow for collaboration but expect that all members contribute to the final work equally. Work submitted for assessment in one class may not be submitted in full or in part for assessment in a second class.

For more information, on grading, and for details on grading policies, please consult the Grading, Feedback and Policies page.

Process Documentation

Students are expected to maintain good documentation of their work process throughout the course. It is recommended that all students should maintain a journal (notebook, blog, etc) and regularly photograph (or video) their creative work as it is being prepared. Students will be asked to share this documentation with the instructor as part of regular assignments and graded outcomes.

Required Texts

There are no required texts for this class. Regular readings will be assigned on the topic. Regular readings will be assigned. Digital and photocopied reading/viewing material will be provided by the instructor and made available on the course Canvas and/or on the course webpage.

For students new to programming or electronics, the following book is strongly recommended: Massimo Banzi (2008) Getting Started with Arduino.

Course Materials Fee, Hardware and Software Access

Course Kit and Materials Fee: As part of this course, students will require an IoT Development Kit. This kid contains your basic needs for projects, the hardware, electronic components and supportive materials for hands-on exploration. This is prepared by Sparkfun and costs approximately $150. Each student is responsible for the cost. It will be charged to your student account. The course kit will be ordered for you and available on the first day of classes.

IoT Development: Within this course, will work with the Particle Argon microcontroller. The Argon will be provided in the course kits. The software for the Argon is freely available and does not have additional costs.

Supplimentary Materials: Our class will be held in IDeATe’s Physical Computing lab. The PhysComp has a range of additional / more advanced components. You are welcome to borrow these for your project work at no cost. If you borrow equipment from PhysComp you are expected to return them at the end of the semester.

In addition, IDeATe has a lending desk where you can find additional equipment. Hunt Library circulation (HL1) also has media technology to lend, including: audio mics, audio recorders, AV accessories, digital still cameras, HDV camcorders, Pico pocket projectors, webcams and more. Take a look at Tech Lending

Using other hardware and software: We will cover a diverse array of software and hardware relevant to the Internet of Things. While preferred hardware and software will be introduced during the labs and tutorials, students are free to use any software or hardware they wish to complete assignments. Students may use Eagle, Fritzing, Rhino, Grasshopper, Solidworks, Arduino, Python (for rPi), Processing, Pure Data, openframeworks + ofxiOS, iOS SDK, etc. If you’d like to tackle more ambitious projects, explore other approaches or experiment with advanced components, let us know and we can help you navigate these choices

Facilities, Resources and Lab Use

A course kit will provide all necessary resources for your project work. Additional resources will be available through the IDeATe facilities and the Physical Computing Lab in Hunt Library.

Students are required to comply with the policies and procedures for the IDeaTe facilities (see: https://resources.ideate.cmu.edu. IDeATe is a shared space used by your colleagues and by other classes. The maintenance of the shared facilities and labs is the responsibility of the students i.e. students should clean up the studio as they use it and leave it in good working condition for others.

IDeATe provides some short term lending of parts and consumable electronic components for use in student projects. These are available for reasonable use only and should not be abused.

For some of the assignments, students maybe be required to use specific equipment, hardware or software. All required equipment (hardware, components, etc.) will be made available for these assignments (see below). Additional and advanced hardware and components may be accessed in the Physical Computing Studio and in the IDeATe equipment lending pool which is open 7 days a week in the basement of Hunt Library. Required hardware (laptops, cameras, peripherals) may be checked out on request. If particular equipment is needed but is not available in the Lab or the Equipment Lending Library, let the instructor know.

Current information on accessing IDeATes facilities can be found on their facilities and resources website.

Helpful Resources for Academic Success

Learning to work with microcontrollers, electronics, and programming for the first time can be challenging. I’ll share some helpful resources to guide your learning.

As this course involves weekly writing assignments (reading reflections), I wanted to share some opportunities and resources for extra support with your writing:

In addition, I hold office hours twice weekly that can be booked through a calendly link (see Canvas). You are most welcome to join at any time to get additional feedback, seek advice or discuss potential topics. I hope to see you there!

Diversity, Inclusion and our Learning Community

This is an interdisciplinary exploration and inclusion in all its forms is what will make our discussions rich and productive.

Within the classroom, I value and will emphasize a safe and inclusive space for discussion, critique and experimentation. Within these discussions, every member of our learning community is responsible and expected to maintain respectful participation. Individually and collectively, I expect we will cultivating a network grounded in empathy, respectful of people’s boundaries and identities, and supportive of responsible and varied forms of expression.

This is a course about community and technology. It comes at a time where technology’s harm to many communities is visible and apparent. Recognizing the work that we do in the academy, in technology, and as designers often embed systems of inequity and bias, I’ve been mindful of this in preparing the content of this course. I’ve tried to provide a broad and inclusive perspective in the readings, cases and topics selected. A mini course is short and this challenges the design of a seminar that is fully inclusive of all perspectives. As such I will invite you to broaden it by adding your own recommendations of literature, projects and perspectives and by adding your voice to the discussions.

The statements above echo the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the educational experience. I additionally include the university statement below both as further affirmation of my commitment to an inclusive learning experience, but also as it includes important resources for anyone navigating or experiencing issues of exclusion, bias, discrimination or harm. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, I welcome a conversation and reach out by email.

University Statement on Diversity

Every individual must be treated with respect. The ways we are diverse are many and are fundamental to building and maintaining an equitable and an inclusive campus community.These include but are not limited to: race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, ancestry, belief, veteran status, or genetic information. We at CMU, will work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion not only because it is necessary for excellence and innovation, but because it is just. Therefore, while we are imperfect, we all need to fully commit to work, both inside and outside of our classrooms to increase our commitment to build and sustain a campus community that embraces these core values.

It is the responsibility of each of us to create a safer and more inclusive environment. Incidents of bias or discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional in their occurrence, contribute to creating an unwelcoming environment for individuals and groups at the university. If you experience or observe unfair or hostile treatment on the basis of identity, we encourage you to speak out for justice and support in the moment and/or share your experience using the following resources:

All reports will be acknowledged, documented, and a determination will be made regarding a course of action. All experiences shared will be used to transform the campus climate to be more equitable and just.

Your Wellbeing

Besides all of the above, your health and wellbeing is the first priority.

Particularly as the semester comes to a close and there are many competing deadlines, assignments and priorities, first and foremost, take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at http://www.cmu.edu/counseling/. Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me know.

Course Policies

Course policies are included on the next page.


If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me know.