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  • Teenagers have been foundational to the transformative activism that has dominated this year. Social media has been used to create movements around topics such as #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and gun control. But in our everyday lives, we’ve seen how cell phones can also isolate us from our surrounding community. How can we amplify the parts of social media and cell phones that bring us together, and mitigate the parts that isolate us? In this studio, we’ll design and fabricate interactive devices that can be embedded around the city that empower a community to engage with other people, places and challenges through civic participation and engagement.

    Students will research urban and social phenomena and speak with experts at the intersection of politics, social science, data science, society, civics, city development and AI technology. For instance, Gobo, a social media aggregator, subverts your social media feed and shows news from outside your political orbit. 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) is an interactive musical installation built in a high-traffic area in Montréal which sets in motion a collective ritual where certain melodies emerge only through cooperation between players. And a project called “Portals” includes gold-colored spaces equipped with immersive audiovisual technology where users come face-to-face with someone in a distant Portal and converse as if in the same room, thereby connecting people in places like a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq to a suburban center in New Haven, USA. Get ready to design the next generation of products for people to re-shape their city, participate in civic life, and engage in civic dialogue and action!

    In this studio, students will use the power of digital design (computer aided drafting, 3D modeling) rapid prototyping tools (laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC milling), and microprocessor electronics to create interactive devices and installations. Get ready to design the next generation of products for people to re-shape their city, participate in civic life, and engage in civic dialogue and action!


    Focus Skills/Subjects/Technologies:


       Industrial Design

         Interaction Design

       Physics (Electricity, Magnetism)




       Robotics (Arduino, Sensors, Actuators)

       Digital Fabrication (Laser-cutting, 3d Printing)

       3d Modeling


    • Enrolling students must be between the ages of 14 to 18 (or grades 9-12)


  • Ben Ferguson
    An assistive device made to help older adults or others who have trouble standing get up more easily.

    The Stand Assist provides support and independence for all people. It was created to help older people with weaker muscles who have a hard time standing and and help them feel more empowered. This will also allow older adults to do more activities by themselves. The device consists of an exoskeleton knee brace, gears, and a motor that when activated by a switch fully extends the brace to push the user from a sitting position to standing. Also when pressure is released off the thigh area it will activate the brace to work. Although a motor is being used there is no need to worry. The motor is very quiet and is small. The Stand Assist was inspired by a woman named Persilla. She has arthritis and walks with a walker. She has to use a lot of momentum to get up from her chair and bed and this assistive tool is designed to give her an extra push so she does not have to work as hard and risk hurting herself. She really likes things that look nice so this affected the design to make the device look sleek and pretty.

    Jakob Sperry

    An assistive device to bring more independence to the elderly by helping them stand up from a sitting position with more ease and comfort.

    Stand Assist intends to bring more independence, empowerment, and efficiency to elderly people who have a hard time doing things quickly and autonomously. Designed specifically with Prisilla in mind, this assistive device helps the user stand from a sitting position with more ease and comfort. Respecting Prisilla's strong personality and valuing of her appearance, this device is unobtrusive and attractive, with a sleek, prettily etched wooden frame, and is easily put on and taken off so it does not have to be worn when not in use. Before sitting down, Prisilla will attach the device to her legs. Then, when she wants to stand, she can begin her normal routine of rocking back and forth to build momentum. When she first attempts to stand, the Stand Assist will detect the effort with pressure sensors and kick in. The added torque of the motor will supplement her muscles and help her get up more efficiently. 

    Maddie Johnson-Harwitz

    An assistive device to bring more independence to the elderly by helping them stand up from a sitting position with more ease and comfort.

    Modern society does not do enough to assist the elderly and care for their mental health, and much of the elderly population struggles with feelings of helplessness.The Stand Assist is designed to combat these issues and enable the elderly to feel empowered and independent.The Stand Assist was designed for a client named Prisilla, who was severely weakened by a coma that she was in for seven months. She also suffers from arthritis in both her hands. Due to her weakened muscles, she has extreme difficulty getting up from a chair.It can take her ten tries to fully stand up, by throwing her body forward and catching herself on her walker. The design of the device is minimalist and pretty to appeal to Prisilla, who is very proper and likes things to look nice, and reluctant at first to use an assistive device.

    Although it was designed with Prisilla in mind, the Stand Assist is an assistive device that can empower many elderly people who struggle getting up. The Stand Assist fits as a knee brace, with a motor that, when activated by a pressure sensor, straightens the brace until it is fully extended and push the user from a sitting position to a standing position. The Stand Assist is designed for elderly people with weaker muscles who have a hard time getting up, leaving them feeling helpless and dependent on others; with the aid of the Stand Assist, they can stand up on their own. 

  • Cooper's brief:

    Sinking Scene: A portable visual filter that simulates the disastrous outcomes of climate change where the sea level has risen. Viewing a familiar scene through the filter creates the illusion of a flood, evoking reflection on the consequences of climate change.

    Climate change and the rising sea level is a difficult obstacle to address because the average person is not confronted with its consequences in their daily life. The “Sinking Scene” brings these issues into focus by taking a scene or view that people are accustomed to, and showing how it could be overtaken by water if nothing is done to stop climate change. This will raise awareness for finding solutions to climate change like innovating green energy and reducing carbon emissions. The Sinking Scene is comprised of translucent blue cellophane held by laser cut wooden posts that can be dissembled for easy storage and transportation from site to site. This project will affect local commuters and passersby that could make a difference in the fight against climate change.

    Kevin's brief:

    The Sinking Scene is a portable portal that makes any everyday scene look engulfed in water. This portal aims to educate people about the future of sea level rise and its impact on communities.

    Many coastal areas are threatened by sea level rise, however, there is still time to prevent sea level rise. The Sinking Scene seeks to inform users about the the risk in order to inspire action. The Sinking Scene is comprised of a framed blue plastic sheet that the user looks through. There are also hooks and feet attached to the wood frame, allowing it to be  displayed in many different places. The goal is to raise awareness about how drastically a city will change if global warming continues, and to encourage users to take steps to help prevent sea level rise.

  • Kenzie: Eat Ugly Cambridge is a campaign modeled on the body positivity. This campaign aims to reduce food waste by raising awareness that food thrown away for aesthetic reasons is still tasty and nutritious. In fact, 50% off produce is thrown away before it reaches stores as a result of aesthetic reasons. The Eat Ugly campaign challenges the idea of normative standards of beauty for food and humans. This campaign challenges societal norms in the hope of changing the societal pattern of picking fruits based on aesthetics. Eat Uglys main goal is to encourage people to recognize that "ugly" produce still tastes good. The Eat Ugly Campaign targets consumers with stickers and posters because once companies know that people will buy "ugly" produce, companies will buy it from farmers and stop wasting this fruit. Eat Ugly hopes to strive to inspire self-reflection in the food industry and in consumers, in the hope of changing people's habits and ideas, so that they learn to value taste and nutrition above appearance in food. With success, this campaign will hopefully change societal norms in the effort to reduce waste. 

    Dina: The Eat Ugly Cambridge campaign tackles the egregious amount of food waste produced by the American food industry and its consumers. Almost fifty percent of U.S. produce, including what is discarded at various stages of production as well as by sellers and buyers, bypasses stomachs for the landfill. Eat Ugly's promotional materials, parodying the "body positivity” movement that promotes acceptance of humans of all shapes and sizes, will help consumers assess their wasteful habits by questioning societal standards of the appearance of fruits and vegetables. Placing the stickers emblazoned with our slogan, “Eat Ugly,” on the fruit itself is a creative method of reaching consumers. These stickers will direct people to the stylistically similar posters, which display important information about food waste alongside cartoon fruit models. By causing small changes in the behaviors of local shoppers, the Eat Ugly movement rescues produce that would otherwise have been destined for landfills. With enough momentum, the Eat Ugly movement will lessen the pollution generated by excess food production, keep uneaten produce out of landfills, and conserve American land, water, and labor.

  • Framed Woman: An installation that provides commentary on unrealistic gender expectations and the truth of the construction of gender in society. The installation is a frame cut out of a woman's portrait in the 1800s, which provides insight as to when these gender norms originated, and why they need to end.

    When people learn about history, the only visual aspect that they are exposed to is through photographs and paintings. As time goes on, society is constantly exposed and catering to the gender norms that were created hundreds of years ago. Therefore, the construct of gender in society continues to be pervasive and oppressive. This installation emphasizes that society needs to see that people do not need to identify or present themselves as one specific label. Through the utilization of a portrait photograph of a royal woman in the 1800s, the audience is forced to attempt to fit into this preconceived idea of what a woman should look like. Not only does this expose how unrealistic these gender expectations are, but it questions the role of gender as a whole in society.





Summer 2019 NuVu at MIT