Instructor: Megan Hofmann



This course explores digital fabrication, introducing students to various technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutting, and industrial knitting machines. Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices behind these digital fabrication tools, emphasizing two key learning outcomes. First, students will learn to leverage digital fabrication technologies to prototype and create innovative physical devices and objects. Through hands-on projects, they will gain practical experience using these tools to bring their ideas to life. Second, the course delves into the technical aspects of digital fabrication technologies, examining how design tools are created and how they shape the possibilities and limitations of the design process. As part of this objective, students will undertake a project to build their design tool, exploring how its features influence different types of design. By the end of the course, students will have acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the world of digital fabrication, understanding its practical applications and the technical nuances that drive its evolution.


Mondays and Wednesdays: 2:50 pm to 4:30 pm (EST)


EXP 311


Subject and Course Number: CS4973, CS7390

CRN: Undergraduate 19755, Graduate 19760

Credit Hours: 4

Section: 04, 01

Course Materials

  • This course does not require a textbook.
  • This course will require a programming environment such as VSCode or Pycharm.
  • This course will require Autodesk Fusion 360.
  • Students will be asked to make things (e.g., 3D print, knit) objects as a part of this class and are responsible for providing their materials.
    • We estimate no more than $200 in expenses are needed for all assignments.
  • If you use assignments in this class as a part of research at Northeastern University, please contact your supervisor about purchasing materials. 
  • Financial burdens should not prevent you from being successful in this class. Please let the instructor know if you have concerns about affording any materials for these assignments.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By completing this course, you should gain the following:

  1. Confidence in using digital fabrication tools such as 3D printers and understanding the relationship between digital tools and manufacturing equipment.
  2. Understand the components of a digital fabrication design tool and how these affect what we can make.
  3. An awareness of the latest advances in digital fabrication research in human-computer interaction. 

Course Schedule (Subject to change)

WeekAssignmentsDateTopicReading for
In Class Discussion
Design Something 
9/6Course Overview 
2Recommended Due Friday, 9/15:
Design Something
EXP Trainings
Fabricate Something
9/11Introduction to MakerspacesEXP Makers Training: 3:30+Barriers and Benefits: The Path to Accessible MakerspacesActions 
9/133D Printing + Training3D Printed Hair: Fused Deposition Modeling of Soft Strands, Fibers, and Bristles 
3Recommended Due 9/22:
EXP Trainings
Fabricate Something
Make for A Person
9/18Laser Cutting + TrainingHingeCore: Laser-Cut Foamcore for Fast Assembly
9/20FabricScaling E-Textile Production: Understanding the Challenges of Soft Wearable Production for Individual Creators 
4Recommended Due 9/29:
Make for a Person
Understand a Maker
9/25Human-Centered PrototypingProbes Toolkits and Prototypes: Three Approaches to Making in Codesigning 
9/27Tangible Design ProbesWeaving Lighthouses and Stitching Stories: Blind and Visually Impaired People Designing E-Textiles 
5Recommended Due 9/22:
EXP Trainings
Fabricate Something
Make for A Person
10/2Building Useful
Design Tools and Toolkits
Evaluating User Interface Systems Research 
10/4Design Representations (1)KnitPicking Textures: Programming and Modifying Complex Knitted Textures for Machine and Hand Knitting 
6Recommended Due 10/13
Understand a Maker
No Class
10/11Design Representations (2)Style2Fab: Functionality-Aware Segmentation for Fabricating Personalized 3D Models with Generative AI 
Final Project
KnitGraphs to Knitout
10/16Machine Instructions (1)A compiler for 3D machine knitting 
10/18Machine Instructions (2)Efficient Transfer Planning for Flat Knitting 
8Recommended Due 10/27:
Knit Script TutorialNo In-Class Discussion:
KnitScript: A Domain-Specific Scripting Language for Advanced Machine Knitting 
10/25Guest LectureNo In-Class Discussion
9Recommended Due 10/27:
10/30Guest LectureNo In-Class Discussion
Novel Designs Tool Watch PartyNo In-Class Discussion
10Recommended Due 11/10:
KnitGraphs to Knitout
Knitting UI Sketch
11/6Direct Modeling InterfacesChoose a new UIST paper to bring to class.
11/8Prescriptive InterfacesGreater than the Sum of its Parts: Expressign and Reusing Design Intent in 3D Models 
11Recommended Due 11/17:
Knitting UI Sketch
11/13Generative Design 1Design Adjectives: A Framework for Interactive Model-Guided Exploration of Parameterized Design Spaces 
11/15Generative Design 2Optimism: Enabling Collaborative Implementation of Domain-Specific Metaheuristic Optimization 
12Recommended Due 11/17:
Knitting UI Sketch
11/20Interfaces and UsersOmniSoft: A Design Tool for Soft Objects by Example 
No Class
13 11/27Special Topics: AccessibilitySharing is Caring: Assistive Technology Designs on Thingiverse 
11/29Special Topics: Medical Making“Point of Care Manufacturing”: Maker Perspectives on Digital Fabrication in Medical Practice 
14 All Small Projects,
Reading Discussions,
and Skill Checks
Due Without Extension 12/8:
12/4Final PresentationsNo In-Class Discussion
12/6Final PresentationsNo In-Class Discussion
All Final Project Deliverables
No Class
Schedule of course topics, assignments, and readings.


Reading and Discussion (10%)

Before each class, you are expected to have read the assigned research paper related to topics in class. These papers will give you a broad sense of the space of digital fabrication research in HCI and should inspire you in your assignment.

Discussion Participation (up to 5%)

There will be 16 discussion periods. Each will count at 0.5% of this grade. You must participate in at least 10 discussions to receive full points. Your discussion lead day does not count toward participation.

Discussion Lead (5%)

You will be assigned 1 paper to lead the class discussion. We recommend reading this paper extra thoroughly and investigating who the authors are, their other related research, and related research at the publication venue. You will need to give a verbal summary of the paper and lead a 15-minute in-class discussion of the paper. Before class, prepare 3 to 5 discussion questions. It’s ok if we don’t get to all of your questions. Submit your discussion notes to Canvas. 

You may swap paper assignments with other students. Both students will need to send an email to the instructor requesting the swap. If you cannot attend your assigned paper day and cannot find someone to swap, contact the instructor as soon as possible. 

Skill Checks (10% of Final Grade, Peer Graded)

These small assignments are designed to check that you are learning the practical skills in this class: craft, fabrication, digital design, and human-centered methods. These are meant to be low-stakes assignments. They are pass/fail. If you turn something in, you get full credit.

Peer Graded: These assignments are peer-reviewed. This means that you need to find a peer to review your design. For each assignment, find a peer to share your design with. To ensure everyone is participating in peer review, we expect you to peer review at least 2 assignments for your peers.

  • Peer Review 1 (1%)
  • Peer Review 2 (1%)
  • Design Something (2%)
  • Fabricate Something (2%)
  • Make for a Person (2%)
  • Knitting UI Sketch (2%)

Small Projects (30% of Final Grade)

  • Understand a Maker (10%)
  • KnitGraphs (10%)
  • KnitGraphs to Knitout (10%)

Final Project (50% of Final Grade)

  • Proposal (5%)
  • 3 Artifacts (15%, 5% each)
  • Presentation (10%)
  • Paper (10%)
  • System/Demo (10%)

Course Policies


Each grade is assigned points equal to percentage points in your final grade. 

Grades will not be weighted. No extra credit will be available. Letter grades will be assigned as the following:

Letter GradeGrade Range By Percentage
A92 to 100 
A-90 to 91.9
B+88 to 89.9
B82 to 87.9
B-80 to 81.9
C+78 to 79.9
C72 to 77.9
C-70 to 71.9
D+68 to 69.9NA
D62 to 67.9NA
D-60 to 61.9NA
FLess than 60Less than 70
Grading Scale for undergraduate and graduate students.


Students are not evaluated based on their attendance. However, we do not expect students to succeed in this course if they do not regularly attend and actively participate in lectures. In many cases, the content of this course is not covered in readily accessible online materials, and classes are the best place to engage the instructor and fellow students. 

All classes will be in person and recorded. Students can access these recordings through Canvas and are expected to watch any lectures they miss.

Faculty / Student Communications

If you have any questions regarding this course, please email the instructor. Please expect a response within 2 business days.
If you would like to schedule a meeting about this course outside of office hours, please book one using this booking page. Meetings outside of office hours should be reserved for private conversations with the instructor and are not guaranteed. 

Academic Integrity

A commitment to the principles of academic integrity is essential to the mission of Northeastern University. The promotion of independent and original scholarship ensures that students derive the most from their educational experience and their pursuit of knowledge. Academic dishonesty violates the most fundamental values of an intellectual community and undermines the achievements of the entire University.

As members of the academic community, students must become familiar with their rights and responsibilities. In each course, they are responsible for knowing the requirements and restrictions regarding research and writing, examinations of whatever kind, collaborative work, the use of study aids, the appropriateness of assistance, and other issues. Students are responsible for learning the conventions of documentation and acknowledgment of sources in their fields. Northeastern University expects students to complete all examinations, tests, papers, creative projects, and assignments of any kind according to the highest ethical standards, as set forth either explicitly or implicitly in this Code or by the direction of instructors.

Go to  to access the full academic integrity policy.

Violations of Academic Integrity will result in an automatic 0 on any involved assignments.

Cheating FAQ:

Can I use ChatGPT or other generative AI Tools?

Yes, you can use these tools at your own risk. Be aware that you are responsible for the content of your submissions. If these systems make false statements, it will have the same effect as you making a false statement. If the system plagiarizes another’s work, it will have the same effect as you plagiarizing work. 

Use these tools where they are helpful to your learning. If you do use these tools, cite them. Note that citation will not change your responsibility for repeating what you have cited. 

Can I work with my classmates?

Yes, and you should! Do not turn in the work of others and call it your own. 

Can I use outside sources?

Yes, and you will need to! This class relies on you going out and seeking knowledge about making things from various places. Keep track of your sources and cite them.

Academic Resources

Student Accommodations

We will work to provide you with any accommodations within our power that serve your learning goals.

The purpose of accommodations is not to make learning easy; it is to make learning effective. We all have different needs and learning styles that require flexibility.

The goal of the class is for every student to be successful. If you have any needs that are not being met in the course or a situation arises that is affecting your coursework, please feel free to bring these things to the instructor’s attention so that we can work together to find the best solution for you. We will not disclose your disability status without your permission.

Default Accommodations

  • All lectures will be recorded for viewing after class
  • All lectures will be automatically transcribed over Zoom. Transcripts will be made available to students.
  • All lecture materials will be posted to Canvas at least an hour before class.
  • Students can attend office hours online over Zoom or in person.
  • This class does not include timed assignments or exams
  • All assignments are marked with a recommended and mandatory deadline. Students do not need special permission to submit assignments by the later mandated deadline. All other extensions require permission from the instructor.

Disability Resouce Center

We encourage you to use University resources to support and document your accommodation needs. However, we also recognize that these systems are not available to every student in a timely manner. To prevent delays in accommodation, we encourage you to connect with the instructor and university services as early as possible. 

Northeastern University and the Disability Resource Center (DRC) are committed to providing disability services that enable students who qualify under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADA) to participate fully in the university’s activities.  To receive accommodations through the DRC, students must provide appropriate documentation demonstrating a substantially limiting disability. 

For more information, visit: