Fall Semester: What I’m Taking

As the program I’m in can seem kind of nebulous, the best way to describe what I’m doing is to show what I’m taking. This semester is largely turning into a kind architectural technology survey, with a little alternative practice thrown in. To wit:

CAD/CAM, taught by Martin Bechthold – tooling/cutting/parametrics/robots. This year the course has a focus on preformance, meaning some sort of real metric that’s controlling operations. Like most of my classes this semester, focus is largely on practical application but it looks like we might be given a little leeway for flights of fancy if we angle it the right way (we are providing the definition for what kind of “performance” we are after).

What I’m looking forward to: learning the real basics of G-Code and robotic control languages, and getting a little deeper into Digital Project. Also, using a water jet on a robotic arm is pretty cool by itself.

Computational Design, taught by Panagiotis Michalatos – form finding, problem solving and visualization for physical and spatial problems. A lot of finite element analysis and very complex geometries, with some interesting physics and visualization techniques largely pulled from gaming environment. The professor has written a great deal of his own software for the work, and while quiet appears to have a pretty good sense of humor. His work can be found at sawapan.eu.

What I’m looking forward to: actually performing the kinds of structural form-finding that usually gets relegated to consultants.

Augmented Environments, taught by Mariana Ibanez and Allen Sayegh – sensors and actuators, responsive environments. A very Media Lab sort of course (in fact two people from the ML are cross-registering). Is going to be a lot of Rhino, Grasshopper, and Arduino, which are all things I have very little knowledge about. Might be an uphill climb.

What I’m looking forward to: building a little robot. Duh.

Intro to Computer Science, taught by David Jay Malan – this is actually an undergraduate class I’m “upgrading” to graduate status. Harvard has been smart enough to not only make Programming 101 a valid core curriculum option, but also to allow the professor to give it a focus on contemporary solutions. The final project can be a mobile application, Web 2.0 project, game, etc. While it’s a little grating to be one of the only people in the room that wasn’t born in the 90’s, I’m already getting immediately useful information out of this class.

What I’m looking forward to: actually being able to back up my bullshit with knowledge when it comes to APIs and C#.

A New Framework for Practice, taught by Paul Nakazawa – my sole non-tech course this semsester, focusing on alternative practice in architecture and the changing post-recession (or mid-recession, depending on your outlook) architectural business environment. Lots of round table environments with someone who has been around the block more than a few times.

¬†What I’m looking forward to – getting some straight dope on how some well-known practices stay afloat.

That’s the list. I’m hoping that getting a lot of this stuff out of the way this fall will allow me to go a little wider in the spring. We’ll see how it works out.

Fall Semester: What I’m Taking