Lecture by Peter Schmitt, Personal Robotics Media Lab, MIT: “OriginalMachines: Form Drives Function”

The digital revolution has fundamentally changed our lives by giving us new ways to express ourselves through digital media. For example, accessible multimedia content creation tools allow people to instantiate their ideas and share them easily. However, most of these outcomes only exist on-screen and online. Despite the growing accessibility of digital design and fabrication tools the physical world and everyday objects surrounding us have been largely excluded from a parallel explosion of possibilities to express ourselves. Creating unique mechatronic artifacts or “originalMachines” requires more specific and sophisticated design tools than exist today. “Object-Oriented Mechatronics” is a parametric design approach that connects knowledge about mechanical assemblies and electronics with the requirements of digital manufacturing processes. The approach addresses the missing link between accessible rapid-manufacturing services and currently available design tools thereby creating new opportunities for self-expression through mechatronic objects and machines.
Peter Schmitt completed his PhD in Media Arts and Sciences under Prof. Cynthia Breazeal at the MIT Media Lab Personal Robots Group (2011). His work addresses contemporary challenges in digital fabrication to inspire new approaches to making and creating in diverse fields such as robotics, sculpture and design. Previously a member of Prof. Bill Mitchell’s Smart Cities Group(MIT Media Lab) Peter holds a Master of Science (2007) where his work focused on electric vehicle design, especially integrated wheel assemblies. At the Media Lab, Peter has served as Highlands and Islands Enterprise Fellow (2007 to 2008) and he was recently selected as a Hasbro Fellow (2010 to 2011). He designed and built three winning cardboard boats (2010, 2009, 2008) applying parametric design and fabrication strategies. The 2008 boat “Bailout” is now part of the permanent Nautical Collection at the MIT Museum. Together with a team, he won the MIT Dept. of Architecture’s Mini-Skyscraper competition (2006) for which the team built a (40-foot/12-meter) responsive structure. Peter holds a Diploma in Fine Arts and Sculpture (Akademiebrief, 2005) and a Meisterschüler title (2004) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, Germany where he was awarded a Cusanuswerk scholarship (2003-2005) to pursue his graduate education.

This event is organized by the Harvard GSD Critical Digital Group. 
For more information, contact Jawn Lim.

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