Developing and Designing Interactive Devices

Developing and Designing Interactive Devices

Instructor: Wendy Ju,

Teaching team:     Paridhi Gupta,

Ilan Mandel,

David Goedicke,

Lectures Tuesday 11-11:50am ET (Zoom link on left)

             Labs Thursday 11-11:50am ET (Zoom link on left)

A/V and technical support: +1 646-971-3811


This course provides an introduction to the human-centered and technical workings behind interactive devices ranging from cell phones and video controllers to household appliances and smart cars. This is a hands-on, lab-based course. Topics include electronics prototyping, interface prototyping, sensors and actuators, microcontroller development, physical prototyping and user testing.

 For the final project, students will build a functional interactive device of their own design, using Javascript, single-board Linux computer, embedded microcontrollers, and other electronics components.

FOR FALL 2020, course enrollment will be restricted to ECE students, and be structured around online lectures and at-home lab work. This course will be offered again in Spring 2020 for students from other disciplines, hopefully as a hybrid course.

Frequently Asked Questions


It is important to be in class. Students are expected to be present throughout each semester at all meetings of classes for which they are enrolled. You do not need our permission if you need to miss class for some reason. Of course, the absence will impact your performance in the class; we will all work to minimize that impact. 

One very good reason to miss class is illness. Even in a distance learning environment, it is important to take time to recover from illness. 

If you do miss class, the expectation is that you will contact fellow students to find out what occurs in class, to catch up on course announcements, and to otherwise make up for lost time. 

Late Policy

Lab prep will be due in class on Thursdays. Lab assignments will be due by class on Tuesdays. Since the labs are cumulative—each one depends on your understanding of the previous one—it is essential to stay caught up.

Late assignments will be dropped one letter grade per day late.


Practical Electronics for Inventors, 4th edition
Paul Schertz & Simon Monk


Your final grade will be based on:

                                    Lab assignments (40%)

                                    Final project (25%)

                                    Homework assignments (25%)

                                    Class participation (10%)

While technical functionality will be a major component of homework, labs and the final project, this is a design class. A sizable portion of the class grade will be based on a subjective evaluation of your device designs.

Very technically simple designs can be great, and very technically complex designs can be wanting, so focus on developing a “design eye” rather than trying to make the most ambitious feature-laden projects imaginable.


We will strictly follow Cornell’s policies on academic integrity as outlined in the Academic Integrity Handbook.

In this class, we make substantial use of open-source software. We encourage you to make use of found code and online examples, and also for the class to act as a microcosm of the open-source community by assisting and collaborating with one another.

That said, proper attribution of all work, assistance and collaboration is absolutely critical in this endeavor. We expect you to be absolutely meticulous in documenting and celebrating shared ideas and code.


We are happy to make accommodations to make this course accessible to all students. Please contact the teaching team if you need help. Also, the Office of Student Disability Services ( may have services available.

Provisional schedule:

The following is a provisional schedule for the course.

Week Date Topic Lab
1 8/27 Course Introduction
2 9/1 Electronics and Microcontrollers Light it Up/Arduino Deepdive
3 9/8 Make your own PCBs/Microcontrollers Digital Timer/DIY Arduino
4 9/15 Hacking and Prototyping  Prototyping with Paper
5 9/22 Evaluating Products with People Data Logger/Bring up your Arduino+
6 9/29 Microcontrollers v. Microprocessors Integrated Interactive Devices / Integrated Data Logger
7 10/6 Distributed systems - Lab catch up -
8 10/13 :: Fall Break :: no class


9 10/20

Guest lecture: Nik Martelaro, CMU

Neural Nets on the Pi

Video Doorbell
10 10/27 Final Project Kickoff Project Pitches/Team Formation
11 11/3 Refining Prototypes Project prototyping
12 11/10

Guest lecture: Cindy Kao, Cornell DEA

Hybrid Body Craft

Team project presentations
13 11/17

 Guest lecture: Alicia Gibb, Open Source Hardware

Open Source Hardware

Project check-in
14 11/24

Guest lecture: Joy Mountford, Ford

Designing with Users

::THANKSGIVING:: no class
15 12/1

Guest lecture: Noah Feehan, Weft

Making a Living Making Interactive Devices

Project Functional Check off
16 12/8 Final Project Presentations


Course Summary:

Date Details