A major component of this course is the Term Project, designed to provide a long-term, hands-on context, in which disciplinary cross-fertilisation can lead to qualitatively different (better?) outcomes in identifying and solving interesting problems. For the Term Project, you are asked to build upon previous research / work in the course and to produce a physical system that can be described as a BIOMIMETIC SMARTSURFACE, subject to the constraints imposed by time, space, resources, and imagination. (You are not to start from scratch.)  You are also given a sizeable budget to demonstrate your collective vision and capabilities. The budget should also be used for printing / display for the final exhibit.


Each team is required to design, build, program and test a ‘biomimetic smartsurface’ that builds on work already completed in the course and makes use of:

  • Biomimicry and/or bio-inspiration
  • Microcontroller programming (Arduino) and circuit building
  • Parametric modeling (Digital Project)
  • Digital fabrication

We have envisaged that each team will be producing something between the size of a tabletop and a mini van. Obviously, this could be a fully functioning unit or a functioning model at scale. This will be presented in a setting of a modern, spacious office building interior (NCRC). The projects must be transportable, installable, and capable of dis-assembly in a short period of time with no modification to the existing building infrastructure. Electrical hook-ups may be present, but additional utilities, supports, capabilities must be negotiated. Each team will have sufficient space to include supporting diagrams, renderings, process, etc.

Blog – Each team member is required to maintain their online course blog describing the intent and progression of their work.

Report – Each team will be required to produce a written report (minimum 15 pages, maximum 20) based on their collaborative project. This project report is intended to present the knowledge and understanding assimilated by team members and the nature of the collaboration during the construction of their project. This illustrated text should document the progress of the work and indicate how the project would be deployed in the field. The report should demonstrate the team’s ability to synthesize and analyze information collected via research, studio practice and empirical study. Each team member’s contribution to the project should be documented.


The assessment criteria to measure a team's achievement will be based on the following:
  • How well the team is judged to integrate the capacities of the multidisciplinary team members.
  • How well the design criteria developed early in the course is synthesized for defining the project and its goals and criteria.
  • How well the team engages in the careful planning of a project where structural, mechanical and electrical systems are fully realized.
  • How well the project coordinates between computational and physical resources.


  • Ability to establish and maintain a collaborative framework.
  • Commitment to a thorough investigation of design ideas through iterative research, drawings, and models.

EVALUATION CRITERIA - Resolution and Synthesis

  • Thoroughness and thoughtfulness of project and presentations.
  • Commitment and care toward fabrication and documentation of operational prototypes.
  • Resolution of final presentation and product.
  • Ability to communicate ideas effectively (verbal and visual).
  • Ability to critically evaluate one’s own work.

Team 1: Neural Window Reef

This installation is a platform for the communal interaction of automated robots that observe and respond to activity in their environment. These robots reside in small clusters that can wirelessly communicate with neighboring clusters to tell them about real-time environmental conditions. In response to changing conditions, the robots come alive through flexing and luminescence.

Bethany Glesner, MATSCIE
Jason Prasad, MATSCIE
Alex Carmichael, ARCH
Joyce Tseng, ARCH
Jim Christian, A&D
Chris Parker, A&D

Team 2: Wall of Leaves

Our surface consists of many panels with geometries designed to transmit and reflect light to give the illusion of leaves blowing in the wind. When the top panels are rotated, the result is a cascade of rotating panels in which each panel's motion is activated by the panel above it. This effect is triggered by motion and proximity.

Diana Goulding, MATSCIE
Christopher Sketch, MATSCIE
Patrick Ethen, ARCH
Simon Rolka, ARCH
Betsy Cordes, A&D
Daniel Connors, A&D

Team 3: Ferro-field

Ferro-field is a elongated table-like structure which uses electromagnets to manipulate ferrofluid. A magnetic field is created in response to the user's presence and a simple wave of the arm causes a rippling effect across the fluid.

Melany Mioduszewski, MATSCIE
Josiah Cornett, MATSCIE
Mo Harmon, ARCH
Keegan Schreider, MATSCIE
Carlo Lorenzetti, A&D
Ekta Shah, A&D

Team 4:  Firefly Cloud

Various types of LEDs diffusely illuminate a wall comprised of straws. Mimicking a swarm of fireflies, the lights flee and evade according to motion detection. The soft texture generated by the straws, in concert with ‘moving’ LEDs, offers a unique visual experience and gives users the childhood feeling of playing with fireflies.

Steven Madsen, MATSCIE
Kevin Yien, MATSCIE
Chris Niswander, ARCH
Jordan Stoewsand-Kryscio, ARCH
Mallory Baran, A&D
Michael Theodore, A&D

Team 4 is supported by the ThingM Seed Program.