Wednesday, February 25, 2009

3rd & 4th classes

The previous two meetings of the class were organized as working sessions. After some general announcements and discussion, students sat individually or in small groups with their instructors in order to present the current state of their research, ask questions which had come up recently, and get feedback from their instructors (and peers, if meeting in small groups.)

By the third class, many but not all students had been able to set out their research questions and formulate testable hypotheses regarding possible answers to those questions, as well as proposing a plan of testing and feedback. (That is: testing the hypotheses, and feedback to the designs embodying those hypotheses and/or reformulating the hypotheses for further testing.) Clearly some of the students are more comfortable than others with approaching a design-and-research exercise in this way.

The second and third weeks also included 'skill sessions' aimed at introducing the students to some specific computational tools which could be useful in their exploration and testing of designs and design variations. The emphasis was on parametric-associative modeling (in 2- and/or 3D) and on scripting. Software platforms for this included MicroStation / Generative Components, Rhino / Grasshopper, and Maya / Mel. One session was also organized to introduce the principles of kinetic structures, for those working with these. Additional sessions may be held as needed for groups of students having similar needs; otherwise additional computational skills are introduced by the instructors and/or tutors on an individual basis as needed (e.g. simulation and analysis via structural FEM, CFD, daylighting software, etc.)

The assignment for the fourth class was for students to have begun constructing testable models (physical/material and/or digital) or at least sketch out the constituting elements and variable parameters of the model(s) they plan to use. Again, some students have been able to reach this step, but many are still struggling with defining their research topics in testable ways, and some are not yet grasping the means of experimental engagement with their topics via computational tools (whether phyiscal or digital.)

In next week's student presentations they are intended to show at a minimum simple test apparati (again either physical, digital or both) including at least a few of the variable aspects which they will test the effects of, and preferably also a preliminary evaluation (via simulation or other analysis) of the first model variation(s).

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