Topic outline

  • Design Thinking and Electronic Prototyping is a course for learning the basics of the designerly process of crafting useful ideas in combination with project work with electronic prototypes. Students will familiarise themselves with basic programming of microcontrollers with C-language, and to use various sensors and actuators. We shall be utilising the Arduino platform.

    During the autumn 2020 the course will be started in hybrid mode, and students are expected to be able to use the Zoom application. We are aware that many of our international students may not be able to participate by being physicaly present (least in the start), and currently the idea is to run the classes in the classroom AS6/TUAS building (Maarintie 8), while simultaneously broadcasting the sessions to the remote participants. Participation in lectures (or perhaps better, 'common sessions') is required.

    Learning outcome:

    After the course the students will be able to build interactive prototypes featuring a microcontroller and to conduct user tests with the prototypes. They also know how to communicate their ideas effectively and argue for the usefulness of their design idea. Most importantly, students will train on their skills to reflectively negotiate and verify design ideas.

    The course is organised through four main activities:

    • Lectures
    • Weekly exercises / tutoring sessions
    • Project work
    • Reflexive learning diary

    Lectures (Tue mornings 10:15-12:00)

    Lectures are organised every Tuesday morning (10:15-12:00), except during exam weeks. Lectures will elaborate tools and principles for prototype building as well as theoretical insights into design process and user testing.

    Exercises / Tutoring (Wed 14:15-16:00 or Thu 10:15-12:00)

    The students will be grouped into teams of 3-4, and they will gain support for project work during the tutoring sessions. The students are expected to participate a tutoring session once every week.

    Project Work

    Student teams will conduct a project, where they develop a 'useful design' that they demonstrate with a functioning interactive prototype. 

    Reflexive Learning Diary

    Students will learn to actively keep a reflexive learning diary through the course.

    Course Book

    Donald A. Norman, (2013) "The Design of Everyday Things", MIT Press, Revised and Expanded Edition

  • Lectures will be held online with the Zoom app on Tuesdays at 10:15-12:00 starting on the 8th of September. 

    Meeting ID: 637 4756 9799

    Passcode: DTEP20

    Week 1: Introduction (Lecture slides, PDF, 1.7 MB)

    Week 2: Lecture slides (PDF)

    Week 03: Lecture slides (PDF)

    Week 04: Lecture slides / user involvement (PDF, 0.7 MB)

    Week 05: Lecture slides (project planning) [PDF, 2.7MB]

    Week 06: Lecture slides (PDF, 0.3 MB)

    Week 08: Lecture slides [PDF, 0.1 MB]

    Week 10: Lecture slides [PDF, 0.1 MB]

    Week 12: Lecture slides [PDF, 0.9MB]

  • Reflective learning diary is a way to express your thinking about what happens in the course as well as what kinds of thoughts the materials in the course trigger. 

  • Course book:

    Norman, D. A. (2013). The design of everyday things (Revised and expanded edition). Basic Books. (Available through Aalto Library services)

    Personal Snack Box:
    PDF file containing the components, some instructions and where to purchase
    Purchasing of the components / tools is not required - just recommended. These are things you are likely to find useful later, in case you pursue a career in the field of electronics.


    Basics of C-programming 

    It is recommended to watch this on YouTube site, as the comment section has useful links to parts of the video. It is also recommended that you actually write the code! Arduino that we use in the course, is based on a variant of C, namely C++.


    Basics of electricity and electronics





    Resistance and Ohm's Law


    Watts and Electrical Power




    Using a Multimeter


  • You will find the weekly exercises (during Period I) here. Instructions will be given on the first lecture.