MACS 265, Fall 2020

Innovation Illinois: From Accessible Design to Supercomputing Cultures

Location: Online
Lectures: Tuesday 11:00am – 12:50pm 
Labs: Thursday 11:00am – 12:50pm

Instructor Team:
MACS265 Teaching Team,
Adrian Wong,
Anita Say Chan,
Jorge Rojas-Alvarez,
Mitchell Oliver,

Course Description
What are the social foundations to innovation practices? How do they emerge? Who’s behind them? What makes them transformative? Innovation Illinois introduces the histories of the varied, world-changing interdisciplinary innovations from the University of Illinois that bridged students and researchers in engineering, humanities, sciences and the arts. We will explore how local histories of Illinois innovations help us understand today’s innovation trends and processes, from contemporary accessibility design and wheelchair sports and kneeling buses, to computer-composed music, online education, public media, and the first massively-used Internet browser.

For the duration of the course, we’ll work with various perspectives from different parts of our campus to imagine, research, and develop—via paper, multimedia, and code-based prototypes–future innovation ideas. We’ll be introduced to and get to experiment with mixed media resources and prototyping methods, spanning on- and off-line archives, digital editing, low and high-fidelity prototyping, and online data collection. We’ll also “visit” campus sites and speak to key figures related to Illinois’ world-changing interdisciplinary innovation histories and collaborations. Our work will culminate in a research project that surveys interdisciplinary practice on our campus, and explores innovation as a phenomenon that necessarily emerges from creative innovation cultures that cross the arts, humanities, social sciences, and computer science.

Projects will use a variety of primary sources, from interviews and news media to data collected online and materials drawn from the University Archives. Your work throughout the course will build oral and written communication skills, skills in interdisciplinary team collaboration, accessibility in user interfaces, critique, and skills in mixed methods for research and design. By the conclusion of the course, students will be able to recognize and narrate various “Illinois firsts” that will inform their design and innovation practice well after they leave the campus. You will further have the chance to explore a means to extend an Illinois’ legacy with design exercises that address accessibility and inclusivity.